The Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be moving closer to a trade for Roy Hibbert, sending the big man to a playoff contender and helping set up their own team for the first playoff run of the post-Kobe Bryant era.
The Lakers acquired Hibbert last year as something of a tryout basis, with a $15 million expiring contract that gave the team a chance to walk away and shed his salary if the experiment didn’t work out. As the 2016 NBA trade deadline approaches, it’s clear that it hasn’t worked and both the Lakers and Hibbert are reportedly working together on a trade.
It’s not exactly clear where the Los Angeles Lakers rumors are pointed. Insiders report that Hibbert wants to go to a playoff contender, but so far there are no strong indications of where that might be.
Fansided speculated that the Boston Celtics could be a likely partner, with the Lakers getting David Lee and a second round draft pick.
“David Lee is a $15 million expiring contract and he’s an extremely likable player the Lakers could re-sign this summer to a much cheaper deal in the event he carved out a role for himself in Los Angeles,” the report noted. “Even better, since Hibbert is actually a player that could help the Celtics out, the Lakers would nab a second round pick in the process as well.”
There could be some difficulties with this plan, as there are rumors that the Toronto Raptors may also be interested in trading for Lee.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 24, 2016
It’s also unclear, at this point, what the Lakers are seeking in return, but most rumors have the team looking into some combination of young players and draft picks that could help stock the cupboard again once Kobe Bryant retires.
The writing has been on the wall for Roy Hibbert this season. SB Nation noted, Hibbert has seen a sharp decline not through any deficiencies in his own play, but from the league’s sharp move to smaller, faster lineups.
As the report noted, the change came so quickly that Hibbert and the Los Angeles Lakers could not have foreseen it.
“The hottest catchphrase around the league a few years ago was ‘rim protection.’ Every team wanted a center who could deter or alter shots close to the basket and Hibbert was fantastic at it. He was the anchor of some great defensive teams in Indiana as the last line of defense, and many assumed his ability to shield the rim is what propped the Pacers up. In reality, it was a combination of favorable schemes and being surrounded by the right players that made him stand out.”
Hibbert’s strong presence around the rim has allowed teams with a strong outside game to feast on the Lakers, who allow almost two extra three-pointers per 48 minutes with him on the floor. Opponents also shoot 38 percent from behind the arc with Hibbert in the lineup compared to 29 percent without him.
The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t the only team rumored to be shipping off a big man with limited defensive abilities. The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly shopping Russian 7-footer Timofey Mozgov, who they just used two first-round picks to acquire last season. Mozgov has been excellent at defending the rim, but just like Hibbert has struggled against faster and smaller lineups. That was exposed in the Cavs blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors last week, when the smaller Draymond Green dominated.
— Lakers SPORTalk (@SPORTalkLakers) January 23, 2016
There are other trade rumors surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers beyond Roy Hibbert, with reports that the team will be a seller at the trade deadline and may be moving any number of players who can bring a good return — minus Kobe Bryant, that is.
[Picture by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]