Lakers power forward Jordan Hill tries to block a driving layup by Nuggets… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Lakers forward Jordan Hill took a deep breath as he considered all the events that made his 2011-12 season a sudden surprise.
Two months ago, few would have predicted that he'd have any shot at a future with the Lakers. They acquired Hill from Houston for Derek Fisher and a first-round draft pick, a move made mostly to reduce the Lakers' payroll. He had missed 13 games because of a sprained ligament in his right knee. Lakers coaches and players expressed doubt he'd have much to offer after having little time to learn the playbook.
Yet, Hill's surprise appearance April 22 in place of a struggling Andrew Bynum during a regular-season game against Oklahoma City earned him a spot on the rotation. Even after Hill was charged with a third-degree felony stemming from two-month-old incident, Hill's performance level during the first-round playoff series against Denver appeared unaffected. He averaged 4.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 18.1 minutes in a dozen playoff games, providing hustle and energy the Lakers previously lacked off the bench.
After exit interviews with Lakers Coach Mike Brown and General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday, Hill said he'd heard nothing but "good things" about both his play and his future.
Hill will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and when asked if he wants to return to the Lakers, he said, "Yeah. It's one of [the best] if not the best organization in the league. I had a great time here in the short time I was here."
Hill, who has said he "hates moving," suggested he wants long-term security. He still plans to move back to his home in Houston, partly to attend court hearings; he is accused of choking his girlfriend in Houston two months ago, a charge that carries a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years. But after playing for three teams in three NBA seasons, the 24-year-old forward said he wants to settle down.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Hill said. "I've just got to keep working and keep doing what I've been doing in the summertime, take care of my body and see where I land."