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NBA AM: Hibbert Hoping to Bounce Back in L.A.

Roy Hibbert is hoping to return to form with the Lakers… Baron Davis attempting an NBA comeback…

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Hibbert Hoping to Bounce Back in L.A.

With how bad the Indiana Pacers and Roy Hibbert struggled last season, it’s easy to forget how effective the 7’2 center has been in recent years.

Hibbert was a huge part of the team’s success (helping Indiana make the Eastern Conference Finals) and was named to the 2012 and 2014 All-Star Games. Not to mention, he was considered the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year for the first half of the 2013-14 season.

He averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last year, but that was a significant drop off from how he had played between 2010 and 2013. The most well-rounded campaign of his career was the 2011-12 season, when he posted 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and two blocks. His career-high in blocks per game came the following year, when he averaged 2.6 rejections a night.

At just 28 years old, Hibbert should still be in his prime and the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping that he can return to form and anchor their defense. The Lakers acquired the big man by sending a future second-round pick to the Pacers in what was a low-risk, high-reward move for L.A.

Hibbert waived his no-trade clause with the Pacers and a $2.2 million trade kicker to join the Lakers, saying it was a “no-brainer.” He’s hoping to have a strong bounce-back year in Los Angeles.

“I expect to play at an All-Star defensive level, and everything else will come,” Hibbert said during his introductory press conference, according to The Orange County Register.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is excited about the addition of Hibbert, but stressed that the veteran center will need help from his teammates on the defensive end.

“In this business, if you can have somebody who’s that size, who’s 28 years old, that clearly wants to rebirth his career, I think that’s a good risk,” Kupchak said. “It all can’t fall to his plate [though. If you’re on the perimeter, you can’t just let your guy get past you and say, ‘Oh, Roy is back there.’ It doesn’t work that way. Everybody is going to have to buy in defensively and make a commitment defensively.”

Hibbert has spent a lot of time training with Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“He gives me the little tidbits,” Hibbert said of Abdul-Jabbar. “I worked with him a lot last year in the summer and he keeps up with me. He always gives me some advice, some things to work on. I always ask him questions.”

Kupchak is hoping that veterans like Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass can help the Lakers get better now while also helping the team’s young players develop for the future.

“Not only can those veteran players hopefully contribute, but they have solid character, and they can be mentors for our young players,” Kupchak said. “We’re going to do our best to win as many games as possible. It’s very, very difficult to do that with all young players.”

While Hibbert certainly helps the Lakers’ frontcourt, Kupchak acknowledged that the team may still need to add an additional center.

“We’re not a big team,” Kupchak said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We have Roy, clearly who is big, then we have Robert [Sacre], who is 7 foot. Our next tallest player is Ryan Kelly, who at 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 is a stretch four. You wouldn’t expect him to block shots and get 15 rebounds and patrol the paint. So really if you look at our team, you can make an argument that we need another big player.”

Last season, the Lakers went 21-61, which was the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

Baron Davis Looking to Make NBA Comeback

Thirteen-year NBA veteran Baron Davis hasn’t been in the league since the 2011-12 season, but he’s hoping to change that this year. The 36-year-old has said that he’s trying to make a comeback and join a team this offseason after spending three seasons out of the NBA.

“This is the first time I’m going to put myself out there, I’m going to try out for some teams,” Davis said on SiriusXM NBA Radio.

Davis, a two-time All-Star, averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals over the course of his 13 years in the NBA.

In his last stint in the NBA, he averaged 6.1 points, 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 20.5 minutes per game for the New York Knicks.

That postseason, Davis badly injured his right knee (suffering a partial tear of the patella tendon and complete tears of the ACL and MCL). However, he never stated that he was retiring or shut the door on his playing career.

It’s unclear which teams Davis will try out for, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can fight his way back into the league after a three-season absence.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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