Jordan Hill’s Greatest Value to LA Lakers Rebuild Is as a Massive Trade Chip

Sometimes, a career year is just not enough to earn an invite back—take the case of Jordan Hill and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The team has a $9 million option on the 6’10” big man, but it also possesses the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. And with Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of Duke perched atop the leaderboard, bringing Hill back may be an unnecessary luxury. 

That said, Hill still holds value for the front office and a rebuilding roster—as a massive trade chip.

And, as Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak succinctly observed during his media exit interview, per, there are three basic components for roster building.

“Our basic philosophy is to use the three tools available to us,” Kupchak said. “Which is the ability to make a trade, the draft and cap room during the offseason.”

L.A. is in good shape with the No. 2, No. 27 and No. 34 draft picks, as well as cash on hand (about $23 million without Hill and $14 million if they pick up his option). They also have the ability to trade assets, such as Hill on a sign-and-trade.

Now 27, the former Arizona Wildcat was drafted by the New York Knicks, traded to the Houston Rockets and then traded again to Los Angeles. His game has often been predicated on bringing bursts of athletic intensity off the bench. This season brought a new opportunity, however—as the team's starting center.

It might have seemed like a golden opportunity for sustained success. But while Hill upped his overall numbers, there was something missing—the six-year veteran just wasn’t playing with his usual aggression. He eventually lost his starting position and was moved back to the second unit as a power forward.

To Hill’s credit, he tried to expand his game, deviating from his bread-and-butter power slams and sink...

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