Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/14/13
Red Auerbach had a saying when he was building championship-caliber Celtics teams as a coach and executive for 29 years: “Never trust any plan that hinges on Jordan Hill.” It was a remarkably forward-thinking slogan, considering Hill was not born when Auerbach gave up his general managing duties. Knowing Auerbach’s legendary foresight, though, it is not impossible to think he may have envisioned the 6-foot-10 forward out of Arizona, and the ill that would befall any team that bet too heavily on him. If any team were going to break this totally made-up commandment, Auerbach would be happy it was the Lakers. With last week’s news that Hill will miss the rest of the season with a serious hip injury, the fundamental flaws present in this team’s roster construction from the very beginning were on full display. Do not misunderstand. Losing Hill by itself does not doom the Lakers’ season, nor was he a drain on the team when healthy. This has less to do with Hill himself and everything to do with the absurd gamble taken by Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the Lakers’ front office from the get-go. That Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash would miss time due to injuries is no surprise. Steve Blake being sidelined for up to three months is no shock, either. Building around aging or ailing stars is always risky, but there are ways to do it right. The Knicks, for instance, did not just sign a point guard in his late 30s to bolster their second unit — they went out and got two of them. They did not acquire a defensive-minded big man pushing 40 to back up Tyson Chandler — they picked up two of them. The Celtics, similarly, hedged their bets on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett by building the best bench Boston has had in years. These teams recognized the reality inherent in their rosters’ construction: Players, particularly old guys, get hurt. By contrast, the Lakers did none of this hedging. They traded for a center coming off major back surgery and, to back him up, they re-signed Hill, who had appeared in roughly 68 percent of all possible games in his three-year career. Adding to their negligence, the Lakers protected against any serious injury to Howard or Hill by signing … nobody of consequence. So, even before Howard’s back started acting up or his shoulder went out of whack, the Lakers were on shaky ground. One significant injury, and their backup “big” was going to be 2012 second-round draft pick Robert Sacre or trade throw-in Earl Clark. (Antawn Jamison is not, and never has been, a “big.”) The Lakers did not get blindsided by the injury bug, as Jim Buss and others have tried to convince us. Their predicament is the predictable result of a plan that centered on unrealistic expectations for the ability of the human body to hold up under stress. The plan was not only reliant upon the stars never getting hurt. The whole kit and caboodle depended on Hill — OK, the rest of the Lakers’ reserves, too — never getting hurt. The plan was built on hope. There is already spin coming out of Los Angeles that Hill’s injury might end up working out. Heck, it opens the door for the Lakers to sign Kenyon Martin! Another 30-something guy to keep the athletic training staff busy! What could go wrong? These sorts of roster realities are what make people so loathe to expect things to get better in Lakerland. Normally, no matter how dire matters looked, a team with Nash, Gasol, Howard and Kobe Bryant would inspire enough faith to keep everybody optimistic that things would be worked out. This is not NBA Jam, though. In the real world, substitutions need to be made. Injuries happen. Eventually, those big names need some backup, and in most cases, the backups are going to need backup at some point, too. The Lakers apparently figured they would be immune to such realities, but they are finding out that they are not. Somewhere, Auerbach is lighting a cigar and smiling smugly. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Three teams achieve separation in Aldridge chase

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo


Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

Nine former college football rivalries that need to come back

The most patriotic uniforms in American sports

Jeanie Buss: Brother Jim will step down if Lakers don't make deep run within two seasons

DeAndre Jordan to Dallas: The Los Angeles Clippers are literally mad men

Remember when the Cincinnati Bearcats were the scariest team in America?

Are the Angels now the worst organization in baseball?

Five reasons the Browns should play Johnny Manziel

Blue Jays need rookies to keep producing for success in 2015

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.