Jul 1, 2012, 11:26 AM EDT
True NBA big men are hard to find. And the simple economic theory of supply and demand applies.
Roy Hibbert is a 25-year-old All-Star true NBA center who averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, but showed his real value in the playoffs when his length really bothered Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on their drives into the paint and forced those two to step it up to come from behind on the Pacers.
A source with knowledge of the meeting said Indiana did not offer a max deal at the outset of the free-agent negotiating period and, unless that changes, Hibbert is leaning toward signing the Trail Blazers’ four-year, $58 million offer sheet. The Pacers would then have three days to match the offer and retain the 25-year-old All-Star.
In addition, the source said one other team, which was not named, also offered Hibbert a max deal after the start of free agency on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET. Players cannot officially sign contracts until July 11.
The Pacers either will up their offer to the max or match the Portland offer. It may be overpaying Hibbert a little, but general manager Kevin Pritchard (who was with Portland) has no choice. In an East where teams are going small to win (hello Miami, Boston) Hibbert is the one matchup nightmare that can give the Pacers hope. With Hibbert, the Pacers had the third best record in the East last season and put a scare in the Miami Heat (and they can add shooting guard this summer and be a real threat as the young Pacers continue to improve). Without Hibbert the Pacers are a fighting for playoff scraps, stuck in the middle of the league and scaring nobody.
Unless you think the Pacers can draw a huge free agent score like Deron Williams to Indiana. Exactly. They have to sign Hibbert.
Indiana had to know this was likely coming. Most people expect them to match. Now they know what they will have to pay.