July 4, 2015 8:26 PM | By Anthony Caruso III, Publisher
The Los Angeles Lakers have been known for having the best big man in the league. But that hasn’t been the case in years.
One can even argue that they haven’t had a good big man since Shaquille O’Neal was traded when he was arguably the most dominant player in the league in the early 2000’s. Since he left town, the franchise had Andrew Bynum – who hasn’t been heard from in a while – Dwight Howard, and a mix and match since.
Howard was never a fit for Hollywood, as he left after just one season for far less money to join the Houston Rockets. Bynum was good for the Lakers during his tenure there, but since being acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers in the deal that sent Howard to Los Angeles, he’s been a bust, as he never played for them, and may never play in the league again.
Now, after having two seasons of having to split time at the center positions, the Lakers are close to acquiring Roy Hibbert from the Indiana Pacers. There’s already speculation that it’s a salary dump, as the Pacers will receive second round picks and possibly the rights to one or more foreign players.
The Georgetown product has a $15.5 million salary for next season, before becoming a free agent.
Hibbert will step into the center position immediately, as he no longer had a future in Indiana. They plan on going to an up-tempo team and the 7-footer would have been dragging them down.
He’s already better than the Lakers centers of the past two seasons. Since Howard left following the 2012-13 season, four players have split time playing center.
Hibbert needed a change of scenery, but it may not result in an improved game unless Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can work with him. Still, that may not even work as Hibbert’s game is very limited.
Last season, he averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game over 76 appearances. However, the 10.6 points per game average was his worst since his rookie campaign in 2008-09 when he averaged 7.1 points per game.
During the 2013-14 season, Kaman averaged 10.4 points per game with the Lakers from the center position. Last season, Boozer and Hill, who are primarily power forwards, made starts at center, so we won’t count their stats since Kaman was a true center.
In what is expected to be Kobe Bryant’s final season, the Lakers will need to get more out of Hibbert if they want to make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. They haven’t made the playoffs in the past two seasons.
And for Lakers fans, that’s unacceptable, because they expect to win every year. They haven’t won the NBA Championship since 2009-10 over the Boston Celtics – but its been down him ever since.
They are hoping that with first round picks D’Angelo Russell and Lance Nance Jr., and the addition of Hibbert, they can at least make it as the eight seed. That’s going to be extremely tough as the New Orleans Pelicans clinched the 8th seed on the final night of the regular season with a 45-37 record.
Three years ago, they had 45 wins and was immediately exited from the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs when Bryant was injured. In the past two seasons, the team has a combined 48 wins with 116 losses.