Yesterday it was reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star that the Indiana Pacers will be keeping their man in the middle, Roy Hibbert. The Portland Trail Blazers, looking to bolster their front court and free up even more space for LaMarcus Aldridge to work, had offered him the maximum 4-year, $58 million contract allowed to restricted free agents. Being a small market franchise, it is always the worry in places like Indiana that max offers won’t be matched and in turn young, promising pieces to the puzzle will be allowed to leave. Another step backwards.
That’s why it was good to see the Pacers making the right call in making sure Hibbert will be around for awhile. He’s one of the most important cogs in their young core of talent, the talent that pushed the eventual champion Miami Heat to six games and all sorts of self-doubt at the time, and, being the giant of a man that he is, Hibbert is almost literally the team’s core on the basketball court, too. With a smooth, articulate offensive game from a period gone by and adept shot-blocking and skills in paint defense, Hibbert isn’t the sort of center we’re seeing more of in today’s perimeter-based NBA; he’s a dying breed.
He was valuable enough for the Blazers to throw the max at him, and that’s why the Pacers smartly matched. Centers with Hibbert’s unteachable size and still-improving abilities almost always mean a lot to their respective teams. For the Pacers, it means keeping their developing team intact by securing the lynchpin and, most importantly, by recognizing Hibbert’s worth in keeping this franchise trending upwards, giving their fans more reason to get excited about the upcoming season. The Pacers, with this move, look like they’re building, not rebuilding.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver on SB Nation. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.