Mike D’Antoni is still a popular punching bag in Los Angeles.
Now, Jordan Hill is getting in the act, confirming a previous report he wanted to leave Los Angeles in free agency if D’Antoni remained coach.
“If Mike was here, I wouldn’t be back,” Hill said. “That’s the way it was. No disrespect to Mike, but apparently I didn’t fit his system. Why would I come back?”
“Last year, I was thinking too much about playing,” Hill said. “If I messed up, I wondered if I would see the floor again. Right now, Byron is relying on me and I’m one of his guys. That really builds more confidence in me to come out this year and play my game.”
Hill said he has stopped drinking alcohol, admitting it hurt his efforts on becoming the Lakers’ renewable energy source. Hill said the lifestyle change helped him drop from 253 pounds to 240.
Last season, Hill tied a career high with 72 games and set career highs with 32 starts and 20.8 minutes per game. There’s little evidence D’Antoni punished Hill for not fitting a certain style.
And how much more playing time could Hill have handled? As he acknowledged himself, he wasn’t in ideal shape to play hard for extended stretches.
Besides, the Lakers gave Hill $9 million guaranteed this season with a $9 million team option for the following year. Would he really have turned down that generous offer if Los Angeles had kept Mike D’Antoni?
Really, this probably speaks to D’Antoni’s poor communication skills. He used Hill more than any NBA coach ever has, and Hill still felt underutilized. Perhaps, D’Antoni could have done more to make Hill feel valued. That – even more than minutes – matters.