Hibbert, Williams, Bass eager for fresh starts with Lakers

Jul 22, 2015, 3:54 PM

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Right after Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass received their new gold jerseys Wednesday, they all spoke variations on the same theme.

The three veteran NBA players entered the summer looking for a fresh start, and they’re all eager to get it with the Los Angeles Lakers.

They’re also looking forward to playing with Kobe Bryant — after they get a chance to talk to him.

“I appreciate the Lakers getting me out here, and I’m going to work extremely hard to make sure the Lakers get back to where they should be,” Hibbert said.

The Lakers were thrilled to swing a trade for Hibbert, the 7-foot-2 center who spent the past seven seasons with the Indiana Pacers. The two-time All-Star had already moved to Los Angeles before the deal happened, and he is determined to return to dominant defensive form after a perceived down season precipitated his departure from Indiana.

While the Pacers are trying to get smaller and faster, the Lakers could use a bulky stopper after struggling as one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams last year.

“Looking at the team here, they have a lot of firepower,” Hibbert said. “My main presence is going to be at the rim. Last year, the Lakers were (29th) in defensive efficiency, so my job is to make sure I clog up the paint, (provide) help-side defense, and whatever else I get on the offensive end is candy.”

Hibbert’s perceived decline last season wasn’t visible in most statistics. He started 76 games and averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game — all numbers that look great to the Lakers.

“In this business, if you can have somebody that size that’s 28 years old, that clearly wants to rebirth his career, I think that’s a good risk,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.

Hibbert is entering the final year of his contract with free agency looming, but he already feels a connection to the lineage of great Lakers centers. He watched Shaquille O’Neal’s rise intently while growing up, and he has worked with Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the past.

“Kareem reaches out to me,” Hibbert said. “He comes to watch my workouts, and we stay in touch for the most part. He gives me little tidbits. I worked with him a lot last year. He keeps up with me, so he always gives me some advice, something to work on.”

After striking out with the biggest free agents on the market following the worst season in franchise history, the Lakers restocked their roster with a mix of veteran acquisitions and young talent led by No. 2 overall draft pick D’Angelo Russell.

Williams got a three-year, $21 million contract after the best season of his career with the Toronto Raptors, averaging 15.5 points per game as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. He believes there will be plenty of shots to go around when he plays with Bryant and Nick Young.

“This is an organization with a very rich tradition,” Williams said. “Some of the greatest players in the world have come out of the Lakers organization … so I’m proud to be a part of that family.”

Bass revealed a secret he kept buried during the past four seasons with the Boston Celtics: He was a Lakers fan in college at LSU, partly due to their similar purple-and-gold color schemes.

Bass was a starter for most of his four seasons in Boston, but he is willing to play any role required by Lakers coach Byron Scott, his coach for his first two NBA seasons with the Hornets in New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

None of the Lakers’ newcomers has spoken with Bryant yet, a fact revealed by a news conference question that led to an awkward silence. Bryant has been on vacation.

Bryant’s last three seasons have ended early due to injuries, but the third-leading scorer in NBA history is expected back in the fall for his 20th year with the Lakers.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Penguin Air

Other Drop Down

FILE – In this July 25, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak...
Arizona Sports

Trump hosts Women’s British Open as Park resumes slam quest

Inbee Park resuming her quest for the career Grand Slam. Teenage prodigy Lydia Ko seeking that elusive first major. Michelle Wie going for victory with an injured left foot.
7 years ago
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, right, motions to Democratic Reps., from left: Peter Barca; ...
Arizona Sports

Wisconsin Assembly approves Milwaukee Bucks arena deal

The Wisconsin state Assembly voted Tuesday to spend $250 million in public funds on a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, a deal that both Republicans and Democrats lauded as good for the state and city.
7 years ago
FILE-In this Nov. 13, 2014 file photo former PGA golfer Charlie Sifford sits in the dining room in ...
Arizona Sports

Family of late black golf great accused of $1 million theft

The son and ex-daughter-in-law of late black golf pioneer Charlie Sifford were indicted Tuesday on charges they stole more than $1 million from him.
7 years ago
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during a practice round for the Quicken Loans Nat...
Arizona Sports

Michelle Wie limps into her next major

that matched her best result of the year -- she developed a bone spur in her left foot that she attributed to the hilly terrain of Lancaster Country Club.
7 years ago
Lexi Thompson holds the trophy after winning the Meijer LPGA Classic golf tournament Sunday, July 2...
Arizona Sports

Golf’s youth movement means 30 is the new 20

a major -- from an otherwise remarkable record. Ko had never missed the cut in her career until that week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. A month later, she was never in contention at the U.S. Women's Open.
7 years ago
Tiger Woods smiles as he answers a question during a news conference prior to the start of the Quic...
Arizona Sports

Tiger Woods running out of chances to salvage season

Tiger Woods knows he's played poorly over the past two years. Now, he's facing the prospect of an early end to his season.
7 years ago
Hibbert, Williams, Bass eager for fresh starts with Lakers