Jordan Hill of the Lakers avoided a possible prison sentence when he pleaded… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
The Lakers avoided one potential headache before the start of training camp when Jordan Hill pleaded no contest to assault charges Thursday in Houston in a move that will allow the reserve power forward to avoid prison.
According to Associated Press, Hill must pay a $500 fine, undergo domestic violence counseling, make a $100 donation to a violence fund and avoid any contact with his former girlfriend, who had accused him of choking her in February at a time when Hill played for the Houston Rockets.
As part of the arrangement, the charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Hill could have faced up to 10 years in prison had he been convicted of a felony offense.
Hill appeared in a Houston courtroom alongside attorney Rusty Hardin Jr., who successfully defended Roger Clemens in his recent perjury trial. Hill’s former girlfriend, Darlene Luna, was represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, perhaps best known for representing Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Neither Hardin nor Allred could immediately be reached for comment by The Times.
According to the AP, Luna sobbed on the witness stand and said Hill hit her legs with his fists, pulled her off a couch and put her in a chokehold from behind. She intends to file a civil suit against Hill, the AP said.
"Jordan simply wanted to put this behind him to play basketball,” Hardin told the wire service. “The alternative is to have this be pending until the season is over and have a trial sometime next year.”
Hill, a productive reserve with the Lakers after being acquired from Houston in a midseason trade involving Derek Fisher, has two years and $7 million left on the contract he signed with the team this summer.
[UPDATE: Hardin told The Times in a phone interview that Hill’s conviction will disappear from his record if he demonstrates good behavior during his one-year probation.
“Jordan decided to kind of put this all behind him so he could play basketball without any distractions,” Hardin said of the no-contest plea.
Hardin also confirmed that Allred handed him an envelope containing notice of a possible civil action.
Allred declined to say whether her client, who has lived in Los Angeles for about eight years, would file a civil suit.
“If any person inflicts violence on a woman and it’s unlawful, the victim has a right to be compensated,” Allred said, speaking generally about civil litigation. “No victim should bear the cost of her injuries to herself. They should be borne by the wrongdoer who inflicted those injuries.”
Asked if her client was pleased with the outcome of the criminal proceedings, Allred said, “She would have liked him to plead guilty instead of no contest to indicate he would take full responsibility and be accountable for what he has done.”]