Should Blazers Offer Maximum Deal to 7’2 Hibbert
Remember a few weeks ago when I said that the Blazers had options this offseason?
It seems the big-guy is being forgotten in this whole “Hibbert to Portland” campaign. Beyond the “can the Blazers afford this” and “is Hibbert worth this kind of cash”, those questions have been torn apart every which way, the real question is should the Blazers make this sort of investment?
All-Star Roy Hibbert was one of the few reasons the Indiana Pacers were a three-seed in this past years NBA playoffs and has been offered a max contract from the Portland Trailblazers at a reported $58 million for four years.
The Indiana Pacers didn’t offer a maximum deal to Hibbert at the beginning of this summer’s free-agency period and have yet to match the offer which now has Hibbert, contemplating a move to the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.
The NBA is a league filled with penetrating guards, but the only center that seems to exist and grab all the headlines in this free agent summer is Dwight Howard. The Lakers Andrew Bynum is always the next center to come to mind, and then who? The Grizzlies Marc Gasol then Hibbert?
Or is it the other way around? Either way, Hibbert is the best of the so-called rest and the max offer from Portland solidifies that. It’s remarkable that a potential acquisition like Hibbert seems to be flying under the radar and astoundingly not even mentioned in some sports news circles.
Hibbert, in his fourth year, was a first time All-Star this past season and at 7’2, has a game that could benefit from some offensive polish, but is definitely defensive certified. A frontcourt that includes LaMarcus Aldridge and Hibbert would certainly solidify the Blazers on paper and increase hopes for the upcoming season, pending the soon-to-be roster moves in Portland.
Few of the current seven-footers in the NBA have had the initial success of Hibbert who has improved every year in his four years playing with the Pacers and this is something the Blazers, via Greg Oden and his 82 career games over five years, would know. Hibbert, on the other hand, was a key member in a Pacers team that pounced on the Miami Heat in this year’s playoffs and looked as if they were headed to the Eastern Conference Finals by jumping out to a 2-0 series lead.
Although Hibbert and the Pacers initially played well, they ultimately failed to advance in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals losing 4-2 to the eventual NBA champion Heat. Lessons are learned in defeat and Hibbert, coming to Portland after a good post season run in Indiana, should make Blazers fans feel secure in this potential arrival.
The fact that free-agent Nicolas Batum may not return in a Blazer uniform next year only makes the four-year offer to Hibbert that much more important in the Blazers quest to gain notoriety and truly compete for a championship in the NBA. Batum brings an obvious scoring and flair to Portland which, with all due respect, can be found elsewhere in the rotation if the Blazers choose to meet the top bidder for his talents.
Hibbert is a rarity that has improved his scoring, rebounding and blocks averaging career highs in all three categories this past season.
Although Batum would be a sentimental loss to the fans in Portland, Hibbert, with his size and early success, would most certainly be a welcomed addition. A real presence in the paint is a huge factor in the NBA and it is something that the Blazers have missed over the past few years. That, coupled with Hibbert’s recent playoff experience, would encourage a mentality in Portland that is ready to win and contend.
General manager Neil Olshey understands the NBA, like the world, is all about what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? Keeping Hibbert should be a priority for the Pacers but acquiring him could usher in a new era in Portland.
There is no more building for the future in the NBA; it’s all about now.
Note – Batum and Hibbert are both restricted free agents, meaning that their respective teams can match the highest bidder for each player and will have overriding power. The Indiana Pacers can choose to match Portland’s four-year $58 million dollar offer. Likewise, the Blazers have the option to match the Timberwolves four-year $50 million dollar offer.