Source: Lakers to keep Jordan Hill

Updated: July 20, 2012, 10:06 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Hill, a late-season bloomer for the Los Angeles Lakers last year, is set to sign a deal with the team after a protracted free-agency courtship.

Hill will sign a two-year deal worth "a little less" than $8 million, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday. Hill's decision came down to the Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, with Hill accepting less money to stay in L.A., according to the source. The contract also includes incentives that can increase his overall compensation.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made one of his first calls at the start of free agency on July 1 to Hill's agent, Kevin Bradbury, but for a variety of reasons -- the Lakers' pursuit of Dwight Howard and Hill receiving attention from other teams among them -- it took nearly three weeks to strike a deal.

"Jordan is excited to play with Steve Nash and has the utmost respect for Kobe Bryant," Bradbury told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "With Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown taking a chance on him last year at the trade deadline, he feels like he has some unfinished business with the Lakers and can't wait to compete for a championship."

Hill, who turns 25 later this month, was acquired by the Lakers from the Houston Rockets for Derek Fisher at the trade deadline in March.

It took the 6-foot-10 forward about a month to break into Brown's rotation as he sat with a sprained MCL in his right knee, but contributed when given an opportunity.

He logged three double-doubles over the course of six games from the second to last game of the regular season through Game 4 of the Lakers' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers won all three games.

Overall, Hill averaged 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in seven regular-season games with the Lakers, increasing those numbers to 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in the postseason.

Even though the Lakers are over the luxury tax limit and thus only have the mini mid-level exception (starting at $3 million in the first year) and the veteran's minimum contracts available to them to offer to incoming free agents, they held partial Bird rights to Hill, and could offer him a maximum of $3,632,450 a season for up to five years.

Hill still faces third-degree felony assault charges for an alleged February incident involving his ex-girlfriend when he was still a member of the Rockets.

Hill's attorney, Rusty Hardin Jr., who has worked for big-name athletes such as Roger Clemens and Adrian Peterson in the past, is scheduled to appear in a Houston courtroom on Tuesday to represent Hill. If convicted, Hill faces a sentence of two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to the district attorney's office.

Another on-court question remains, of course, as to whether Hill will be the team's primary backup big man behind starters Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum or behind Gasol and Howard, should a deal be completed.

Hill was drafted with the No. 8 pick in 2009 by the New York Knicks, the first of three teams he's played for -- along with the Rockets and Lakers -- in the first three years of his career.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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