After seven up-and-down seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Roy Hibbert is looking for a fresh start in Los Angeles. The 28-year-old center was acquired by the Lakers this offseason and is ready to begin the next chapter of his career –a chapter that started with a candid conversation with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
“I just talked to him about what they expect from me, and just hearing the different responsibilities and different expectations that I didn’t live up to when I was in Indy, which I take full responsibility for,” Hibbert said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Under the circumstances, I didn’t perform the way that I wanted to, so we talked and I talked to Coach Scott. Defense is the primary thing they needed. They were 28th or 29th in defensive efficiency last year. I think that I can help bring that number up. I’m just going to try to do my part to block shots, rebound and be a presence and then go ahead and help this team win. I looked at it how Andrew Bogut did for Golden State. Just be a presence and affect the game and help the team win.”
Hibbert, a two-time All-Star, was a dominant defensive player for most of his time with the Pacers. He also averaged double figures in each of the last six seasons but struggled with confidence this past spring.
What exactly happened?
“I think about that all the time, but it’s not going to do me any good to dwell on it,” Hibbert said. “It’s not going to do the Pacers any good to dwell on what happened with the relationship, what happened with how I played and the team played. That’s one thing I will say that I’m not going to dwell on that too much openly. I’m just looking towards the future. I know that sounds like what everybody says, but I spent too much time sometimes thinking about that.”
But what will it take for Hibbert to get back to playing at an All-Star level?
“First of all, I’m not going to guarantee any All-Star stuff,” he said. “I’ve done that in the past, and I’ve kind of shot myself in the foot sometimes when I say things, but I will say that I started from scratch. Usually after the season or during the summer, I take some time off and then I go ahead and I just lift for the first two, three months and then start basketball up towards the end of the summer once I’m in shape after lifting and getting down to where I want to be or getting up to where I want to be. So this summer, I kind of started a whole new workout plan. I looked myself in the mirror and said what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working the past two years. What can I do to change it? So I got a whole new nutrition team, a nutritionist. I got with a strength coach out here. We worked on some things. The NBA is getting faster. So I went from 283 to 267. I got the body fat down as well to play up-tempo. Once the Golden State Warriors won, that’s how the NBA is shifted now, so I’m trying to prepare myself as opposed to sitting there whining about how they don’t use big guys like they used to.”
In related news, Hibbert was part of an awkward press-conference moment Wednesday when he, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams were asked if Kobe Bryant had reached out to them since being acquired by the Lakers. Bryant apparently has not, as the trio sat speechless and waited for the next question.
Hibbert, however, isn’t bothered by Bryant’s silence.
“I don’t expect a guy to do that,” Hibbert said. “I keep to myself during the summer. Whenever we had new additions to the team in the past, sometimes I reach out, sometimes I don’t. So I’m not going to hold it against him. I didn’t think it was going to be such a funny little incident or awkward seven seconds like it was. But no, he hasn’t. But all I know is i’m going to be ready to hit the ground running when training camp starts and to play with one of the best.”