There are very few players who have been squeezed out of the NBA while having their skillset go from undervalued to obsolete as quickly as former Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert.
The seven-footer was acquired by the Lakers in 2015 as a hoped-for defensive fix on a team not known for stopping people, with the coaching staff and front office thinking that Hibbert’s use of verticality could cover up a lot of their woes on the defensive end.
Things didn’t quite work out, as Hibbert’s defense was proven a lot less valuable on the Lakers than it was on a smart and disciplined Pacers team that could force players directly into Hibbert, and he left Los Angeles after one year, bouncing to the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets before washing out of the league completely as it went small and outran him.
Hibbert’s fall was a steep one, and even with the respect LeBron James surely has for him after battling Hibbert in the Eastern Conference for a few years during his time with the Miami Heat, there were never really rumors about the Lakers using their 15th-and-final roster spot on the former Hoya, even with the Lakers seeming to need a center before signing Michael Beasley to that final slot.
Still, while it was before Beasley signed at least, those lack of rumors didn’t stop TMZ Sports from asking Hibbert about a Lakers return over a year after he stopped playing in the NBA (via Bleacher Report):
When TMZ Sports asked him about going back to the franchise, Hibbert said, “I’m good on it right now.”
In fact, the 31-year-old veteran didn’t express interest in playing for any NBA team, saying, “It’s just time to move on.”
The NBA decided that for Hibbert last season, but it’s good that he seems to be at peace with the reality. And after his difficult year in Los Angeles under former head coach Byron Scott during the Kobe Bryant farewell tour, it always seemed extremely unlikely he’d want to come back anyway, much less to play in the (often negative) spotlight placed on LeBron’s teammates.
Plus, again, there was never anything tangible connecting Hibbert to the Lakers (or even really anything at all), so it does seem bizarre to ask him about, but at least now we know, I guess?
Maybe next week someone can go ask Carlos Boozer if he’s considering a Lakers return too.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.