Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports that the Portland Trailblazers and one other unnamed team have made max contract offers to free agent center Roy Hibbert. The Pacers did not offer quite the max amount in their initial offer, but as Hibbert is a restricted free agent Indiana has the right to match any offer by another team.
Coming off his best season as a pro, Hibbert averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks a game with a 19.3 Player Efficiency Rating. In today’s NBA, a legitimate back-to-the-basket center with Hibbert’s size (7 foot 2) and stat line is always going to be a coveted asset. At the same time, with the stricter cap rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, one has to wonder if teams can continue to pay non-franchise guys franchise player money. However, that is the type of question that will probably be answered a few years down the line.
For now, the Pacers will most likely match the offer sheet as they are awash with cap room, and at the end of the day competent centers really are hard to come by in this league. From the Blazers’ perspective, while a Batum-Aldridge-Hibbert frontcourt has a ton of upside, Indiana matching the offer sheet may end up being a blessing in disguise. Some of Portland’s most effective lineups are with LaMarcus Aldridge playing center, and while Hibbert is a very good player, a max contract may be one that they end up regretting a few years down the road.