Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert became the first NBA All Star to have four scoreless games in the playoffs, a record that players don’t want their name attached to.
The frustration of Hibbert, a seven-footer who has shown the ability to be in the top-tier of players at his position, may be setting in for Pacers management.
According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, Indiana has about a two-year window to remain in contention in the Eastern Conference. As the front office contemplates how to replace David West in 2016 and whether or not to re-sign Lance Stephenson, trading Hibbert “isn’t off the table.”
And this is a two-year team now for the Pacers. Both West and Hibbert have player options for the 2015-16 season, and if they exercise those, they’ll be free agents in July 2016. The team will have to find a successor for West soon. The league expects the tax line to rocket up to $81 million for 2015-16, and Indy players have no potential bonuses that could screw up their cap figure, according to several league sources. The Pacers could pay Stephenson $10 million per year, duck the tax in each of the next two seasons, and go forward building the next iteration of the team.
Indiana has three bold deal-makers in Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh, and Kevin Pritchard. It will shock no one if they pull something unexpected to sort this out and accelerate any transition they think is necessary. Trading Hibbert probably isn’t off the table, and unloading George Hill’s contract would give them some breathing space and the chance to search out a more dynamic lead ball handler.
Hibbert trade rumors first surfaced after the Pacers were bounced out of the Eastern Conference Finals. ESPN.com reported that both Hibbert and Indiana management could be looking for “a fresh start” that would be beneficial to both sides.
Hibbert has not requested a trade, but at the same time there are indications he wouldn’t oppose one. And a seven-foot All-Star center would certainly warrant interest on the open market.
Hibbert has two years and $30 million remaining on his current deal, with the final year being a player option.