YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Lakers' Jordan Hill is one option at power forward, but no lock

Hill makes the most sense as Pau Gasol moves to center, but questions about his offense remain. Chris Kaman, a career center, may get nod opening day and Wesley Johnson may get look.

September 30, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, battles for position with Portland's Mayers Leonard during a game last season. Is Hill capable of playing at power forward for the Lakers this season?
Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, battles for position with Portland's… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Among the many questions about the Lakers' lineup: Who's going to play power forward?

Pau Gasol will take over at center, leaving a gap down low that might be filled by Jordan Hill. Might.

The eighth pick in the 2009 draft worked on his outside shot during the off-season but hasn't necessarily held off several other candidates, Coach Mike D'Antoni said.

None of them are perfect fits, including Hill, for decidedly different reasons.

Chris Kaman has played center his entire career, though D'Antoni didn't rule out starting him at power forward on opening night.

Wesley Johnson is only 6 feet 8 but could get time down low instead of small forward or shooting guard, D'Antoni said.

Long-shot candidates include veteran Shawne Williams and rookie Ryan Kelly, neither of whom has a guaranteed contract.

The Lakers begin the season Oct. 29 against the Clippers. D'Antoni might wait until then to pick a power forward.

"I don't foresee anything right now," he said. "I'm not there yet."

Hill makes the most sense, even though his offense has never been refined and he certainly doesn't fit D'Antoni's wish for a "stretch" power forward.

He has never averaged more than 6.7 points in a season, missed all nine of his career three-point attempts and was sidelined most of last season because of a torn labrum in his hip.

But he's aggressive on the boards and has tried to augment that with work on his outside touch.

"I tried to do at least 600-700 shots a day," Hill said. "Me and Kobe [Bryant] talked after the season last year and he felt that I should get some shots this summer, so I did what he suggested. I feel pretty good about it."

Hill was injured last January when Bryant stepped on his foot while stepping back to guard Andre Miller.

"I stayed in one spot but my hip kept going," Hill said at the time.

He claims to be pain-free these days. But he can't lay claim to being a starter yet.

"It's up in the air," Hill said. "I don't know what's going on. I'm just out here producing and trying to get better."

Like almost everyone else on the Lakers, Hill's contract expires after this season. He will make $3.5 million, about $2 million below the league average.

Going to China

As if their training camp isn't already somewhat disjointed without Bryant, the Lakers face another disruption next week.

They leave Oct. 11 for an eight-day trip to play exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai.

The Clippers and Miami did it last year in China. Now it's the Lakers' turn, along with Golden State.

"It's not ideal obviously to go across the world for preseason, come back from a jet-lagged trip to China and play a week later," Steve Nash said. "Physiologically, that's not what I think will draw the best performance in us. But that's the deal. We've got to promote, this is a business and we've got to go over there and do our duty."

D'Antoni was similarly hesitant about traveling but didn't want to make excuses.

"In January, nobody is going to say, yeah, that China trip just kicked our butt," he said.

Twitter: @mike_bresnahan

Los Angeles Times Articles