It sounds like the Los Angeles Lakers are ready to move on from center Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert has been with the team for all of one season, sure, but the Lakers sit at 9-34 with the main goal being show off Kobe Bryant over the course of his farewell tour and lose enough games to add another franchise centerpiece next offseason.
None of the above is really a surprise, though Hibbert has floundered more than one would have guessed. According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Lakers will look to do right by Hibbert by searching for a contending team to move him to before the February 18 deadline:
Roy Hibbert waived some of his trade kicker to land in LA… I was told Lakers trying to find him a playoff team. https://t.co/f0ulO2TqJB
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 18, 2016
It’s hard to know just how much interest contenders will have in Hibbert. He’s 29 and on an average of 25.6 minutes averaging just 6.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. The Lakers aren’t exactly going out of their way to show Hibbert off to potential trade partners, either. Back on January 7 against the Sacramento Kings, the former Georgetown standout received just 12 minutes. Over the course of January, he’s scored more than 10 points once in a game and hasn’t posted a double-double.
The situation just hasn’t panned out as the Lakers might have hoped. In theory, Hibbert next to Julius Randle down low would provide a solid presence for the young player to learn from and a nice balance to the outside shooting on the team. Instead, Hibbert slows the rotation and the paint looks too clogged to run a strong semblance of an offense.
Los Angeles figures to want an expiring contract back to match Hibbert’s expiring status, which is what makes the situation so tricky. There are contenders out there who wouldn’t mind a half-season rental for a push at a title, but Hibbert is far from the only option on the market in this mold. Giving back an expiring might not make a ton of sense either if it means ruining a roster’s current chemistry.
For better or worse, this was one of the predictable outcomes when Hibbert joined the Lakers. Either it worked and the young talent in place got a boost from his presence or the Lakers would hit next summer with a good-looking draft slot and a ton of free cap space to maybe add a huge free agent, especially with Bryant out of the picture.
This particular situation will only intensify as the deadline approaches. Hibbert might not have a ton of value, but general manager Mitch Kupchak and Co. won’t stop doing their due diligence by trying to unload veterans such as Hibbert and Brandon Bass. Los Angeles will look quite different next year and Hibbert never really fit into the picture, instead resembling a stop-gap solution.
The Lakers remodeling seems set to begin anew.