Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have added veteran forward Antawn Jamison to the bench with a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, the attention has turned to free agent Jordan Hill. With the Lakers presumably the frontrunner to sign Hill, the consensus has been that it was simply a matter of time before he’d sign with the team.
According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune via Twitter, the Lakers will have some stiff competition to re-sign Hill from the Minnesota Timberwolves:
Hill’s agent says Wolves “right there” with Lakers, probably no deal tonite because he’s getting on a plane now headed home from Vegas
— Jerry Zgoda(@JerryZgoda) July 18, 2012
As arguably the team’s best option left in free agency, Hill is definitely a must-sign situation. With Hill proving his worth to the team during the NBA playoffs, the Lakers were impressed with the young forward’s ability to be a double threat consistently. Hill’s rebounding and scoring was a big factor in the Lakers’ dominance in the frontcourt late in the regular season and during the playoffs.
The addition of Jamison definitely gives the Lakers some wiggle room if Los Angeles is unable to re-sign Hill. Even though Jamison is able to play the three and four spots off the bench, Hill is a long-term option for the Lakers at 24 years-old.
Locking up the young forward to a long-term deal will make the Lakers that much better in the frontcourt next season and will help secure the future. The talks with Hill on a new deal have been ongoing since the start of NBA free agency, but with the Timberwolves seemingly unable to sign Nicolas Batum the team might make an aggressive push for Hill.
The Lakers are reportedly ready to offer Hill a new contract of $3.6 million annually for up to five years. Not a bad deal from a team extremely limited in free agency, but it may be an offer the T’Wolves will top.
Last season, Hill averaged 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Hill’s numbers improving in the rebounding category during the playoffs to 6.3 rebounds per game. It became clear that with more time on the floor Hill was much improved and showed signs of promise as a frontcourt backup for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.