2:49pm: In the full ESPN report on Hill and the Lakers, Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne classify the talks between the two sides as “serious,” suggesting there’s real mutual interest. According to Shelburne (via Twitter), the Lakers envision Hill and Ball playing alongside one another in the starting lineup.
12:26pm: Free agent point guard George Hill and his representatives are in Los Angeles today to meet with the Lakers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers and Hill are discussing a possible one-year contract.
Although injuries limited Hill to 49 games in 2016/17, he was excellent when he played, comfortably establishing a new career high in PPG (16.9) despite averaging fewer minutes per game than he had with the Pacers. Hill played solid defense for the Jazz and shot over 40% from downtown for a second straight season. His ability to play off the ball in addition to running the point would make him a valuable backcourt piece for virtually any team.
However, Hill has seen his market shrink in recent days, with many of his potential suitors unable to offer a lucrative deal. The Nuggets and Knicks are said to have interest, but don’t have the necessary cap room to make a market-value offer without moving other contracts. The Jazz wanted to bring Hill back, but addressed their point guard spot by trading for Ricky Rubio, significantly reducing the odds of a reunion with last year’s starter. The Spurs were also linked to Hill, but reportedly broke off talks after striking a deal with Patty Mills.
Taking a one-year deal with the Lakers to act as a short-term starter and a mentor for Lonzo Ball might make some sense for Hill, since it would give him an opportunity to show he can stay healthy for a full season. But at age 31, there’s no guarantee that he could parlay a strong 2017/18 campaign into a huge payday a year from now.
L.A. doesn’t have a huge excess of cap room available either — taking into account cap holds for their three first-round picks, the Lakers have nearly $82MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2017/18, which leaves approximately $17MM in cap space. The team is interested in one-year deals this offseason, in order to maintain cap room for the summer of 2018.
It’s worth noting 2017/18 will be Hill’s 10th NBA season, which would make him eligible for a higher starting salary next summer (up to 35% of the cap instead of 30%). However, based on his seemingly cooling market, an offer in that range appears unlikely anyway.