The last thing the Los Angeles Lakers need at this point in the postseason is another distraction.
Yet, that’s exactly what the team is faced with after reserve forward Jordan Hill has been charged with allegedly choking and shoving his girlfriend while a member of the Houston Rockets. The incident in question occurred before the Lakers acquired Hill n the Derek Fisher trade with Houston, but will still have an effect on the team chemistry of the Lakers. Hill had begun to define a key role at a critical time among the other reserves.
With Metta World Peace’s reincarnation into Ron Artest, the already struggling bench has to step up and produce at a high level in order for the Lakers to move past the Denver Nuggets in the first round. Jordan Hill was turning into a nice surprise off the bench and gave the second unit significant production — seemingly for the first time all season long.
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Though Hill is not in any imminent danger of missing game time, the legal process is sure to weigh on him emotionally in some fashion. That spells trouble for his new team. The Lakers need every bit of scoring the bench can provide, and it stands to reason that the latest drama with an unlikely character could be just as damaging as the problems with World Peace (suspension) or Andrew Bynum (maturity issues) were.
Hill had a terrific Game 1 performance against the Nuggets, scoring an efficient 10 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Having another go-to player off the bench capable of putting up solid numbers gives the Lakers a security blanket among the bench players the team was previously without.
With respect to the charges, an issued statement by Hill added, “I’d like to apologize to the Lakers organization and to all of their fans for the untimeliness of these accusations.”
To call this incident untimely is an understatement – the Lakers have struggled mightily to rebuild a team that started the season missing one of its key components in Lamar Odom. Now, it appears that there will be another setback just as it had begun to overcome another string of adversity.
How the team and Hill respond will be keys to look for this postseason in Los Angeles. Next for Hill is an appearance in Houston to face the charges and to determine if any action will come from the league. Whether or not it will interfere with the NBA playoffs remains to be seen. In any case, this is another disturbing development for the Los Angeles Lakers at precisely the wrong time.