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Lakers News: Latest Buzz on Roy Hibbert, Jabari Brown

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 8, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 14: Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers signs autographs before a game against the Washington Wizards at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 14, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2015 NBAE  (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers largely struck out on big-name free agents but could be on the path to redemption if the latest, biggest news surrounding the historic franchise is any indication.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the Fourth of July that the Lakers are set to trade for All-Star Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report heard the same, adding the framework was still being worked on to execute the swap.

With apologies to Robert Sacre, L.A. needed a formidable big man like Hibbert to round out a respectable starting five. Hibbert is a capable rim protector and can dominate at times in the post, serving as a suitable complement to Julius Randle up front.

CBSSports.com's Matt Moore notes just how effective Hibbert is at altering shots close in the paint:

Considering the Lakers gave up the second-most points in the NBA in 2014-15, Hibbert ought to be a huge help. A fresh atmosphere from his turbulent time in Indiana may be just what Hibbert needs to fully realize his potential.

Hibbert also has just one year remaining on his current contract, so he'll have plenty of motivation to perform well ahead of his next big payday. It may be the perfect storm of circumstances as the Lakers seek to improve upon a woeful previous season.

One free agent L.A. has come to an agreement with is reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. He joins a compelling perimeter rotation with No. 2 overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell, promising second-year guard Jordan Clarkson and the legendary Kobe Bryant.

Wojnarowski reports volume shooter Nick Young is a strong candidate to be moved to make room for Hibbert's $15.5 million salary. This means Jabari Brown may be on the way to a significant role for the Lakers.

Unfortunately for Brown, he suffered an eye injury in practice on Monday and will likely miss the first two games with the Lakers in the Las Vegas Summer League. ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes indicated Brown was poked in the left eye and has a small laceration.

In the regular-season finale against Sacramento, Brown netted 32 points. Over the span of 19 games for L.A., the former Missouri teammate of Clarkson averaged 11.9 points and flashed strong three-point shooting, with a 37.1 percent clip.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Brown has been on the grind and has evident competitive fire. Going from undrafted status to the Development League's leading scorer last season and making a splash in the Association garnered him a multiyear contract—albeit of the non-guaranteed variety—after two mere 10-day deals.

Lakers head coach Byron Scott spoke highly of Brown in late March, deeming the youngster worthy of an NBA roster spot in 2015-16.

"He is one of those guys next year who will belong in this league," said Scott, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. "He guards people and is a tough kid. Offensively, he takes what you give him. He makes good decisions too, which is important. So I think he has a place in this league."

It's apparent from the longer-term commitment that general manager Mitch Kupchak at least envisions the possibility of Brown doing more for Los Angeles in the near future. The injury to Brown doesn't figure to be a huge setback, and it will be fascinating to see how he, Russell and Randle eventually function together on the court in Vegas.

Many may criticize the lack of moves L.A. made on the open market, but the pieces falling into place at least create optimism for the future. The Lakers have quietly had a stellar offseason in reality.

Whether it's enough to keep up in the loaded West depends on a variety of factors that hinge on the team's recent news. The type of enthusiasm Hibbert plays with looms large, as does how much of a contribution Brown can put forth with greater stakes.

If Clarkson can make a considerable leap, Bryant can stay healthy and Russell lives up to his draft billing right away, this Lakers squad could be formidable more suddenly than expected.

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