The Lakers gave Jordan Hill a two-year, $18 million contract last summer that seemed ridiculous at face value.
But look a little closer, and it made some sense – notably because the second year was a team option.
The Lakers, unable to lure to top free agents, were essentially overpaying for flexibility. They clearly liked Jordan, and this contract allowed them to keep him for one more year before having to decide on him later. It’s not as if they had better uses for that money.
The team option just protected them in case Jordan blew up. If his value somehow exceeded $9 million, they’d be rewarded in 2015-16 for overpaying him this season. In the likely event he wouldn’t be worth that much, they could just decline the option.
Has Hill become a $9 million player?
He’s posting career highs in points (12.3), rebounds (8.2) and minutes (27.2) per game. But playing a larger role and leaving Mike D’Antoni’s space-creating system, Hill’s efficiency has nosedived. He’s shooting a career-low 46.4 percent and scoring fewer points per minute than last season. He’s also rebounding worse than previous seasons.
Even with the salary cap set to skyrocket in coming seasons, it’s hard to justify Hill at $9 million.
The Lakers, though…
Though the assumption when Jordan Hill signed a two-year deal worth $18 million last summer was that the Lakers would deal him by the trade deadline and that the second year of his contract (a team option) would not be exercised, sources have said all year that there is a distinct possibility the Lakers will, in fact, keep Hill going forward.
The Lakers are poised to have major cap space this summer. They’d really sacrifice $9 million of it for Hill? That’s just foolish.
I’d say this is a bluff, but who would they be bluffing? Hill again? They can no longer trade Hill unless the exercise his option, and then good luck trading him. I can’t see teams wanting him at that price.
Except maybe the Lakers, apparently.