George Hill played fantastically for the Jazz last year — 16.9 points per game, shot 40.3 percent from three, averaged 4.2 assists per game, was a good floor general and was strong on the defensive end — in the 49 games he played.
It’s the 49 games and recurring toe injuries, which cut his playoffs short that concerns teams. Combine that with a shrinking market for free agents with less money on the table than many expected, particularly point guards, and Hill may not see the deal he wants coming.
So he’s looking at the Lakers and a possible one-year deal, and Los Angeles is interested, reports Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Free-agent guard George Hill met with Los Angeles Lakers officials Monday and they are engaging in serious talks about a short-term deal, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers and Hill have significant mutual interest on pursuing a deal that would allow Hill and No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball to play together, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers only have about $17 million in cap space, which is already less than Hill likely thought he’d make, and Los Angeles may not want to spend all of it. If the sides can find a number that works for a year, they will have a deal.
In theory, this works for both sides. For Hill, he gets to spend a season showing how valuable he can be, and how healthy he can be, then he can cash in next summer on a longer term deal. (Which sounds great, but next year’s market is expected to be tighter and more cash poor than this one.)
For the Lakers, they get a quality guard who can ease Lonzo Ball’s transition to the NBA and take some of the pressure off the rookie on the court. Plus, Hill provides good defense. With Brook Lopez and Hill, plus the growth of Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, the Lakers could be respectable (not a playoff team, but not looking like a team tanking again either).
Most importantly for the Lakers, a one-year deal keeps them open to having at least one and maybe two max salary slots next summer, when LeBron James, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook are free agents (the Lakers still need to shed some salary to get to two full spots). In a tight market, being the team with all the money could make the Lakers a desirable destination.
Don’t be shocked if this comes to fruition in the coming days.