Jordan Hill has no interest returning to the Lakers with same role

LakersÕ Jordan Hill is wrapped by by Suns P.J Tucker during first period action  at Staples Center Sunday, March 30, 2014.  ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )

LakersÕ Jordan Hill is wrapped by by Suns P.J Tucker during first period action at Staples Center Sunday, March 30, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )

Through all the missed defensive rotations, the absent rim protection and a missing source of energy, Jordan Hill sat on the bench without any chance to fill those needs.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni gave Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol a chance to start together in the team’s 124-112 loss Tuesday to the Portland Trail Blazers, but the sudden willingness of faith both exposed the tandem’s rustiness and left Hill among the few falling out of the rotation.

“It gets old,” Hill said, mindful he had posted 28 points in Milwaukee just five days earlier. “It’s what you can expect, though. It’s not a surprise. I can’t do nothing, but stay humble and continue to keep my head high and support my team.”

Yet, it appears clear that Hill has no interest in filling that role long-term. He said “it’s too early to say” on where he would like to play once he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hill also called the Lakers “the best franchise in the NBA.” Though he did not rule out returning to the Lakers next season, Hill made it clear he has no interest in doing so if it means having a similar role.

“Of course not,” Hill said. “Who would?”

Hill did not explicitly say it. But if D’Antoni were to return to coach, that surely cements Hill’s interest in leaving. He has averaged a solid 8.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in 19.8 minutes this season. But his playing time has waned this season for reasons including fatigue, a recent knee injury and becoming a casualty of D’Antoni’s system that puts a high premium on floor spacers and outside shooters.

Hill’s absence against Portland reflected the byproduct of D’Antoni featuring Gasol and Kaman in the frontcourt while still giving playing time to Ryan Kelly (nine points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes) and Robert Sacre (three points and six rebounds in 18 minutes).

“There’s not enough minutes,” D’Antoni said. “You look at the minutes. To give them ample opportunities, you have to have some minutes. You can’t just play 12 guys and be in and out, in and out, in and out. That just doesn’t work. You have to make choices. You don’t know beforehand if it’s the right choice. You probably know afterwards. You just go on your gut and go on what you see from previous games and go on the opponent and try to make the best choice you can.”

Hill hardly liked that reality. But he stressed that his frustrations stemmed more from not having a chance to contribute than any issues with D’Antoni.

“I didn’t really see it coming. But I still wasn’t surprised,” Hill said. “The rotation has been up and down. Mike is an excellent dude and he is our coach. You have to show the utmost respect for him and for what he’s doing. I like this team and everybody on this team. So I’ll be supportive.”

Hill said he has that mindset partly because it appears inevitable he will return again to the court. After all, the Lakers have fielded 33 different starting lineups amid endless injuries and inconsistent play.

“It’s been like this for the whole season,” Hill said. “It shouldn’t a surprise to anyone. You have to stay strong basically.”

Yet, it’s a role Hill has no interest in playing wherever he goes next season.

RELATED:

Mike D’Antoni plans to stick with Pau Gasol-Chris Kaman tandem

Five things to take from Lakers’ 124-112 loss to Portland Trail Blazers

Chris Kaman more diplomatic about Mike D’Antoni, reduced playing time

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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  • kingtheprodigy

    Can you blame him how does Robert sacre and an old Chris kaman getting more minutes then him.

    • Michael Shorter

      Um we are tanking Duh…. Seriously we are tanking when Hill and Kaman are on the bench. The defense and offensive rebounding they do is a big part of y they are on the bench. Sadly I love both of these guys. Bring them both back and bigger roles. I don’t care if it’s under a brand new coach who has never coached play these two and I’ll be happy.

  • jay fields sports

    Lol he has not averaged 7 assists per game. How do you not proof read your own article before you post it up. How are you a writer.

  • Kahless

    He should be our starting center. Ever since we got him 2 yearsago, he’s always performed.

  • APrince66

    How can there even be discussion of D’Antoni returning?
    Lakers have great pieces for a fun team next year with a coach that understands how to use individuals talents to their maximum team potential. Hill would thrive with a coach like that

  • LarryM

    The major problem is no continuity they need to get rid of D’Antoni before no one wants to return- he is trying to ruin the Lakers like he did with the Knicks- step up Jeannie – Jim can’t play the Phil card any longer he is gone – this team needs structure not sandlot!

  • Alexandra Taylor

    Jordan Hill plays very well at center and I don’t know why D’Antoni doesn’t use him there all the time. He is not afraid to get in around the rim and tough it out unlike Gasol who always looks panicked when there are bodies around him. And he does a much better job than Sacre. Sacre can’t even jump. Some times you have to wonder what these coaches see that we don’t see because the line up, most times, is a real head shaker.

  • greg

    How do you not start Hill when he is the only guy that hustle the whole game….BIZARRE….

  • Daniel Torres

    7.1 rebounds* not assists.

  • hookedonnews

    So Hill is not happy that he didn’t get to play last night. Not exactly a news flash. This appears to be an attempt to create a story where there isn’t one. Someone is always going to be unhappy. Kaman gets to play and someone else doesn’t. I don’t see anything in the quotes from Hill that indicate that he has a problem with MDA or the system. He recently said he could play in any system. He’s having career numbers this season. Yes, he would like to play more minutes, but that’s not always possible. They are trying to work with the young guys. That’s the reason Sacre and Kelly got minutes, and he didn’t. This is just another attempt to create the impression of a feud between Hill & MDA. Hill made some positive statements about the coach and the Lakers. If he leaves it will be because someone offers him too much money to turn down IMO.

    • Tate793

      Trying to play the “young” guys? You consider Kaman and Gasol “young” guys? The “Big Excuse” (Pau) should not even be on the floor. He plays like crap, and, then makes up some excuse – it’s been going on for 3yrs now. Why not start Kaman and Hill? Yes, it’s obvious. It happened when Hill was in NY. D’Antoni is a bigot and that’s what you see. He pulled the same crap last year with DNP-CD’s all year long on Hill, Devin Ebanks and Antawn Jamison. Heck, Dwight left because of D’Antoni, He bailed on PHO, ruined NYK and bailed. The only reason he’s still here is because of another nitwit just like him in the FO.

  • Derek880

    There’s really no reason not to play Jordan Hill, ever, in my opinion. No other player this year has put as much into his time on the floor as he has. I don’t get this notion of playing the “younger” players. Jordan isn’t an old man, and with most teams, players like Sacre and Wes Johnson would probably have been waived by now, or be on the very end of the bench. We’re going to end up losing Hill to some other team for absolutely nothing. Even if we don’t use Hill as a center, he should be starting as a PF. Kaman should have always been Gasol’s backup as center off the bench. NOT Sacre. It’s just really poor coaching. Outside of Nick Young and Jordan Hill, very few of the current active roster is worth holding onto very tightly. I would be doing all I can to assure those guys that they have a future with the team. Would any other team really care about making sure Sacre and a rookie (Kelly) felt assurance and got playing time? It’s time for D’antoni to go. His logic is absolutely ridiculous.

  • Matt Williams

    D’Antoni gotta go!!

  • purplerain53

    Jordan Hill certainly is part of our future team and we have to keep him. He has to know, that D’Antoni won’t be around next season and he will be getting fair amount of playing time under the new coach. This guy is a no-brainier to keep. He is capable of scoring in double digits every single nigh. I think, a 4 years deal, starting at $ 3.7 mil. will be what it takes to keep him in L.A.

  • yaul

    gET RID OF MIKE d. ANTONI NOW, AND SEE WHO WANTS TO PLAY FOR US.