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The 2014 summer free agency will be a really crazy one. There will be several big name free agents available in the market and even if we don’t get to see much star movement, the NBA world will be certainly different. One of the stars who might get traded during the summer is Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. The 7’2” Hibbert was a big factor during Indiana’s run toward the NBA Finals in 2012-13. Back then, Hibbert was playing at an All-Star level. But during the past season, the 27-year-old was nonexistent.
Hibbert struggled badly and he didn’t provide much help to the Pacers during the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Although head coach Frank Vogel showed trust on him until the very end, Hibbert never really managed to get things going. He was a non-factor on offense, performing significantly worse than he did in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Hibbert was a big factor for the Pacers during the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, when together with David West they simply killed the Miami Heat inside.
It’s rare to see an NBA player who is just entering his prime decline so much statistically. But that’s exactly what happened with Hibbert. After finishing the 2012-13 season with 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, his performance dipped to 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in 2013-14. In fact, Indiana struggled badly as a team during the second half of the 2013-14 campaign and Hibbert was just one of the weak links.
The biggest difference for the 27-year-old center, though, came during the postseason. After recording 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest on 51.1 percent shooting during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Hibbert’s numbers fell to just 9.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 44.9 percent shooting from the floor during the 2014 postseason. In short, Roy Hibbert was a non-factor for Indiana and Larry Bird might now be wondering if he did right to match the $58 million contract Hibbert had previously received from the Portland Trail Blazers.
The latest reports hint that the Pacers are exploring a couple of trade scenarios for their starting center. The New Orleans Pelicans and the Portland Trail Blazers are their potential partners in such a deal. Let’s break down each scenario.
New Orleans Pelicans
This is a team with a young core and great potential for the near future. The Pelicans will be contenting for a playoff ticket next season, but they don’t have an actual starting center. Anthony Davis is with no doubt a star and he is the Pelicans’ franchise player. Davis is not a center, or to phrase it better, he is most effective when he plays the power forward spot. And if AD had a big man of the size and quality of Roy Hibbert on his side, he would definitely perform much better than the past season.
The New Orleans Pelicans do have several assets to offer to Indiana as an exchange for Roy Hibbert. Eric Gordon could be one of them, especially if the Pacers lose Lance Stephenson during the free agency. Ryan Anderson could also be a piece of the trade and a player the Pacers would happily use.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers did offer a four-year contract worth $58 million to Roy Hibbert, a contract the Pacers matched last summer to retain their starting big man. Nevertheless, Rip City still seems like a great potential destination. The Blazers are looking to build a championship contending team around their Big Three, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum. But in order to achieve that they will have to be active during the offseason and make all those necessary moves. LaMarcus Aldridge will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and unless the Blazers have already managed to become a contender, the veteran forward could explore the market. The certainty is that Aldridge will draw lots of interest from various teams around the league next summer. So, Rip City has to act quickly and try to prove to Aldridge that he can find success in Portland.
If the Pacers sent Roy Hibbert to the Portland Trail Blazers, Robin Lopez would most probably be the centerpiece around which the Blazers would have to build a trade package. The second-year guard C.J. McCollum might also be requested by the Pacers. But again this will depend on Lance Stephenson’s decision to stay or depart from Indiana. Thomas Robinson is another young player with lots of potential who can be used by the Blazers as a trade chip. It’s obvious that as long as LaMarcus Aldridge is on the roster, Robinson will always be a backup.
If there is one position in the starting lineup which can be improved for the Portland Trail Blazers, it’s at center. That’s why they have been eager about acquiring Roy Hibbert. And they will definitely be happy to listen to Larry Bird’s offer if he decides to knock on the door to offer a trade around Hibbert. The truth is that Hibbert seems to be an excellent fit for Rip City. Even if he doesn’t manage to score in bunches, his size and his defensive skills will greatly help the Blazers make their championship ambitions a reality.