Without changes, Jordan Hill unlikely to return to Lakers

Lakers power forward Jordan Hill dunks over Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye during the first half of their game at Staples Center.
(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

On March 27, the Lakers’ Jordan Hill scored 28 points with 16 rebounds against the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Five days later, he couldn’t get off the bench, outside of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation.

“Yeah, man. I don’t know. I’m all out of words. I don’t know what’s going on,” Hill said after the Lakers’ 124-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “It’s getting old now. Can’t be frustrated. Can’t be mad. I just need to stay humble.”

Hill, who will be a free agent this summer, said he is open to returning to the Lakers but not for more of the same.


“Of course not,” Hill said when asked the question. “Who would?”

Hill has played in 64 games this season, averaging 8.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in 19.8 minutes.

“You definitely want to finish this year off strong,” he said.

How can he do that if D’Antoni doesn’t put him on the floor?

“I can cheer strong,” he said. “I’m still going to support my teammates, no matter what. ... I’ll continue to be a good teammate and a good person.”

D’Antoni seemed to give in to the pleas of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman on Tuesday night, starting the pair of seven-footers together for just the fourth time this season.

Kaman had a monster night on Sunday in a win over the Phoenix Suns, scoring 28 points with 17 rebounds and six assists. Gasol was out, struggling with a bout of vertigo.

On Tuesday, the Blazers pulled away in the second half on the way to the victory. Hill didn’t get off the bench. Neither did small forward Wesley Johnson.

“There’s not enough minutes,” D’Antoni after the loss. “You just can’t play 12 guys just in and out, in and out, in and out. ... It just doesn’t work.”


With the franchise long since mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, D’Antoni acknowledged recently that the team has made it a priority to give minutes to younger players such as Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly over Hill and Kaman.

“You’ve got to make choices and you don’t know before you make the choice that it’s the right choice,” D’Antoni said. “You probably know afterwards. You just go on your gut, you go on what you see from previous games. You go on the opponent and then just try to make the best choice you can.”

Given the Lakers’ porous defense on Tuesday, perhaps the wrong choice was made against Portland.

After the game, Johnson said he was healthy enough to play, but D’Antoni chose otherwise.

“It was just one of those things,” said Johnson, who has been averaging 8.9 points a game this season through 71 appearances.

Johnson will be a free agent this summer, along with almost the entire roster (save Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall).

Nick Young has a player option, but at just $1.2 million, he’s also expected to hit free agency.


Hill said he has enjoyed his three seasons with the team.

“It’s the Lakers. It’s one of the top franchises, if not the best in the NBA,” he said.

Hill will earn $3,563,600 for the season, after hitting a $63,600 incentive in his contract for games and minutes played.

If the Lakers hope to bring him back, they may find he doesn’t want to return to play for D’Antoni.


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