Despite being 7’ 2” and an All-Star in 2013-14, Roy Hibbert is widely available this offseason according to The Sporting News. The Pacers got off to a wonderful start last season, busting out of the gate to a 40-11 start before finishing the regular season 16-15 and heading into the playoffs embroiled in off-court drama.
The playoffs were not kind to Hibbert; he became the focal point of the relentless criticism that dogged the Pacers, going scoreless an incredible four times and held without a rebound twice during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. While he did have a couple strong outings (most notably a 28 point, nine rebound performance in Game 2 against Washington), he could never really find any momentum and reestablish himself as the reliable No. 2 offensive option he had been for most of the regular season.
And now, it appears the Pacers may look to move on from the man who anchors their interior defense. The problem, of course, is that right now Hibbert has never had less value as a player. By all accounts a good guy and someone who does have a track record of success, the center nevertheless looked like a guy on his way out of the league during multiple stretches of the playoffs. Will someone really want to take on the two years and $30 million remaining on his deal if that is the player they’re getting?
Larry Bird and The Pacers certainly can’t be blamed for trying. It seems like they’re trying to free up room so that they can bring back free agent Lance Stephenson, another lightning rod for controversy during the playoffs. Whereas Hibbert was in the news for simply poor basketball, Stephenson’s shenanigans on the court such as flopping and blowing in LeBron James’ ear made him a much-discussed figure around the league.
The Pacers effectively choosing Stephenson over Hibbert would leave a sizable hole in their frontcourt. While they do have David West and Luis Scola as power forwards, their only other centers are LaVoy Allen (who barely played last year after coming over in the Evan Turner trade) and Ian Mahinmi, a nice complementary piece but someone who has all of 15 career starts to his name.
So how realistic is it that a deal involving Hibbert may happen? One GM seems to think that the Pacers are at the very least committed to making some sort of change to their roster, saying that “they’d be disappointed to see that same core group back intact, so it is a matter of, how drastic can the changes they make be? Moving Hibbert for multiple pieces would be a pretty drastic change, but they’re asking.”
Paul George and West certainly aren’t going anywhere, so that definitely limits Indiana’s options for a dramatic change in personnel. It remains to be seen, though, if they’d be able to find a suitable deal for a guy in Hibbert who posseses elite size and defensive ability but questionable skills on offense.
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