Lakers’ Roy Hibbert goes about his business without fanfare or complaints
Roy Hibbert is the forgotten starter of the Lakers.
There are no retirement tributes for him in city after city. He’s not young enough to be analyzed and categorized as the future.
He shows up for work, blocks some shots, and goes home.
Reporters crowded around Kobe Bryant‘s locker after a recent game, waiting an eternity for him to leave the trainer’s room. Others swarmed D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.
One walked up to Hibbert to start an interview after the Lakers lost to Houston on Sunday. Only one.
It makes sense. Hibbert, 29, is in the last year of a contract paying him $15.6 million. There’s no guarantee he’s on the Lakers next season even though he likes Los Angeles.
He maintains a professionalism about him and continually tells teammates — mainly Nick Young — to get in enough shots before each game. He’ll chide them for making small talk when they should be mentally preparing for tipoff.
The Lakers are 9-34 and Hibbert has never seen anything like it.
He played in the Eastern Conference finals twice in his first seven seasons. The worst team he was on was a 32-50 Indiana Pacers team. The Lakers have won 16 championships and will be lucky simply hitting that number in victories this season.
“It’s rough,” Hibbert said. “The skeletons are there to be a really good team. It’s just not going the way we want it to be. You see glimpses but it’s been rough.
“The longest [winning] streak we’ve had is like three games in a row. If we can get a couple of those, I’ll be happy with that. But we’ve got to put together a whole game and we’re in the process of that.”
Hibbert is an afterthought in a Lakers offense that typically deteriorates into get-what-you-can isolation plays. He is averaging 6.6 points, a career low. He is taking 5.8 rebounds and blocking 1.7 shots, also toward the bottom of his career averages.
The Lakers envisioned him as their defensive backstop when they acquired him from Indiana for a 2019 second-round pick. He takes the blame for them being soft defensively. The Lakers are giving up 106 points per game, 28th in the NBA, and surrendered 70 points in the paint in a 112-95 loss to Houston.
“I guess that’s more my back because that’s my territory,” he said. “I try to do a good job of contesting shots and blocking shots and altering shots, but I’ve got to do a better job of doing more. Being a big guy, I’ve got to shore up the paint a lot more. It’s my job.”
What he wouldn’t say was that the Lakers guards, young and old, continually got beat on the dribble, putting Hibbert into awkward spots down low. It has been that way the whole season.
That’s Hibbert. Don’t blame anyone else. Be a pro about it.
The Lakers list Bryant as probable for Wednesday’s game against Sacramento. He has been limited because of a sore Achilles’ tendon.
Larry Nance Jr. is listed as doubtful after sitting out Sunday’s game because of a sore knee. Randle is not on the injury report after suffering a possible broken nose against Houston.
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