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The evidence: reports indicate the team is shopping big man Roy Hibbert.
Multiple reports say that the Pacers have held discussions with the Pistons about swapping Hibbert for Greg Monroe. Ekipa24 reported that the Pacers are discussing a trade for Goran Dragic with the Suns.
Lots of chatter about Greg Monroe today. Pacers shopping Hibbert and a source tells me they have called the Pistons about him. All I know.
— Matt Dery (@dery1051) August 10, 2014
Monroe is still a restricted free agent, and whether new Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy wants him to be a part of the team has been a mystery for quite some time.
The Hawks, Suns, and Trail Blazers have all shown interest in Monroe in proposed sign-and-trade deals, but Hibbert may be the best return Detroit can get for him. However, it doesn’t make sense to trade one big man for another, especially with Andre Drummond already in place at center.
Part 2 of the Hibbert rumors has the Pacers center heading to the desert for a Phoenix squad that was the surprise of the NBA last season, nearly making the playoffs to complete the Cinderella story.
Dragic is overseas playing for the Solvenian national team in the FIBA World Cup. Reports say Indiana is trying to make this deal happen but also indicate the Suns plan to reject the offer.
I don’t know how much stock I’d put into a Ekipa24 report, but the Suns are going with Emeka Okafor, Miles Plumlee and Alex Len at center these days. Len has potential, but can’t stay on the court. And Hibbert is an upgrade over both Okafor and Plumlee. However, it’s hard to imagine the team parting ways with its budding guard Dragic.
The biggest takeaway from these rumors isn’t that Hibbert could be in Detroit or Phoenix to start next season, but that Indiana does not see itself competing this year without its top two players and is trying to shop its most valuable assets.
Hibbert could not match the high level of play he showed during the 2012-13 Eastern Conference Finals when he was a defensive force when the Pacers pushed the Miami Heat to the brink in the playoffs. After a strong start to the 2013-14 season, Hibbert’s play could not hold up, and down the stretch his play dwindled — much like the Pacers did — and he was an absolute disaster when the playoffs came around.
The thing about trading Hibbert is that other teams, coaches and front-office personnel will remember Hibbert for what he did during that 2012-13 Eastern Conference Finals and will believe they can help Hibbert to regain that form. The potential of that kind of player will still likely command some return on the trade market, especially because Hibbert plays the center position, where talent is hard to come by.
The Pacers need to continue these trade talks and get word out they’re willing to deal Hibbert. The team needs to rebuild its front-court around George and David West for 2015-16 and revamp its backcourt, which right now is comprised of George Hill and Rodney Stuckey, neither of whom hold long-term promise.
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