DISCLAIMER!!! This is a long one. But, most of it is line item stuff that you can skip if you think you already know a lot about starting NBA center’s recent contract details and other team’s cap situations around the league.
A Strong, but not Air Tight Case for Roy Hibbert ~
Even though West and Granger are still our most reliable (in Granger’s case that’s a stretch) “go to guys” when we need a play late in a game, Hibbert might be the closest thing to a cornerstone. He’s by no means a legit franchise player. But, if we maintain our current system and core group, he’s become the biggest key to our success. This is his first season where he’s really made a consistent impact in more games than not. He looks primed to continue that trend and even find more ways to improve and get just a little better in all aspects.
Losing him would likely mean completely reassessing the team’s direction. None the less, we thrive on a team dynamic and can’t afford to just give him a blank check and fill in the team around him with whatever we can afford. Going into this summer, we need to really step back and look at the market and decide what is best, long term for the team.
To help gauge his value let’s first look at the market for similar assets. Here’s a list of starting centers that signed extensions or Free Agent contracts in the past 2 or 3 years and their stats in their contract year plus some (but not all) pertinent notes*. For the record, aside from Perkins and Bogut’s health issues I consider most of these players to be nearly as good, or better than Hibbert at this point. Sentimentally there’s not really anyone I would take over Hibbert if the money was equal (a focused Howard or Bynum would probably be a no brainer though), but there are certainly a few I would take over Roy subjectively if the money was equal.
Here’s the format for the list of players and their respective numbers.
Name: Contract amount/length- Games Played, Minutes per game, Points per game, Field Goal %, Free Throw %, Rebounds per game, Assists per game, Blocks per game, Steals per game, Turnovers per game, Personal Fouls per game.
Roy Hibbert: ?/?- 65GP (equal to 82), 29.8mpg, 12.8ppg, .497 FG%, .711 FT%, 8.8rpg, 1.7apg, 2.0bpg, .5spg, 2.0TOpg, 3.0PFpg
Al Horford: $60mil./5year- 77GP, 35.1mpg, 15.3ppg, .557 FG%, .798 FT%, 9.4rpg, 3.5apg, 1.0bpg, .8spg, 1.5TOpg, 2.5PFpg
Joakim Noah: $60.5mil./5year- 48GP, 32.8mpg, 11.7ppg, .525 FG%, .739 FT%, 10.4rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5bpg, 1.0spg, 1.9TOpg, 3.3PFpg
Andrew Bogut: $60.5mil./5year- 36GP, 31.2mpg, 11.7ppg, .577 FG%, .571 FT%, 10.3rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0bpg, .6spg, 2.4TOpg, 3.6PFpg (side note: the year before he played in 78 games and had better numbers. 78GP, 14.3ppg, 9.7rpg, 1.7bpg)
DeAndre Jordan: $43mil./4year- 80GP, 25.6mpg, 7.1ppg, .686 FG%, .452 FT%, 7.2rpg, .5apg, 1.8bpg, .5spg, 1.3TOpg, 3.2PFpg (side note: He still had/has tons of upside and just turned 23 when he signed his contract with two years in NBA and 1 in college…Hibbert has 4 years in college and 4 in the NBA and will be nearing 26…his upside is just about capped out.)
Andrew Bynum: $57.4mil./4year- 50GP, 28.9mpg, 14.3ppg, .560 FG%, .707 FT%, 7.9rpg, 1.4apg, 1.8bpg, .4spg, 1.7TOpg, 3.1PFpg (side note: Straight out of HS, he was the youngest player in NBA history and signed his extension the same week he turned 21…needless to say…still a lot of upside at the time).
Marc Gasol: $57.4mil./4year- 81GP, 31.9mpg, 11.7ppg, .527 FG%, .748 FT%, 7.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.7bpg, .9spg, 1.8TOpg, 3.3PFpg (side note: numbers were better this year and the year before the contract year. But, still…they overpaid, no question.)
Tyson Chandler: $55.5mil./4year- 74GP, 27.8mpg, 10.1ppg, .654 FG%, .732 FT%, 9.4rpg, .4apg, 1.1bpg, .5spg, 1.2TOpg, 3.2PFpg (side note: Numbers improved as that year went on and he earned this contract by anchoring NBA champs. But, still…they overpaid, no question).
Kendrick Perkins: $32.5mil./4year- 29GP, 25.5mpg, 6.0ppg, .515%, .556 FT%, 8.0rpg, .9apg, .9bpg, .3spg, 1.9TOpg, 3.1PFpg
Nene: $65mil./5year- 75GP, 30.5mpg, 14.5ppg, .615 FG%, .711 FT%, 7.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0bpg, 1.1spg, 1.8TOpg, 3.2PFpg, 1.8TOpg (side note: You guessed it….overpaid. I wanted nothing to do with Nene this summer.)
So, there’s a pretty good measuring stick I think. Let’s hope we get Hibbs to stick around for something close to the average of the above players (which is just over $10mil.).
Now that we’ve sort of established a benchmark for asset value, let’s look at the market demand.
Here’s a list of teams with a potential need at the center position and the cap space to give Roy at least $10mil. in his first contract year, assuming the league cap number at around $60mil. To come up with their projected cap space, I’ve included 2012 draft pick salary cap holds, expiring rookie cap holds, but not the MLE cap hold (which may or may not be a factor under the new CBA…haven’t confirmed that). I’ve also added some important notes. I took the liberty of assuming some of the more obvious Team options not being used (on crappy players that aren’t key to their team like Martell Webster and Dante Green and others), but I think I included that in the notes in most cases*.
Team: Projected Cap Space- Notes
Boston: $21mil.- They’ll have many needs, but a true post presence that can score and defend will be the biggest need. They’ll have Pierce, Rondo, Bass, Bradley, Jajuan Johnson, Stiemsma (assuming they extend him), and the 21st and 22nd pick. I’d rather keep Big Roy, but if they want to throw him 4 years for $55+mil. or something then I don’t know if we can justify that.
Brooklyn: $28.5mil.- This number assumes they DON’T waive their Bird rights cap hold on Brook Lopez, they DO pick up the team option on Damian James, D.Will opts out and Farmar and Gerald Wallace opt in. This available cap space number could actually be as high as $50.5mil. ($50.5mil. of freakin’ cap space!!!). But, their available cap space could also be as low as $2mil. if everyone opts into their player options, they pick up Damian James option and retain Lopez’s Bird rights/cap hold AND luck into the top 3 of the lotto (thus keeping their 2012 pick and the cap hold that comes with it). This is likely the domino team that holds leverage on the 2012 free agency. I just don’t see Hibbert being the kind of splash type of player that Prokhorov is looking for, despite his Queens background. I could easily see them holding out for a bigger name and then missing out on everything…like before.
Charlotte: $0.0mil. cap space- However, if they renounce the rights to DJ Augustin and DJ White they’ll have about $10-12mil. in cap space (depending on where they end up in the Lottery). I still don’t see them feeling like they are close enough to being good to pay a complimentary/pseudo franchise player like Hibbert, who seems to value winning, enough to go sign with that crap hole team.
Cleveland: $32.5-$34mil. (depending on where they land in the lotto)- They could certainly use a center. What they get in the draft could make a big difference in how they value Hibbert. None the less, I see them being cheap and going younger for a while…but that’s just me.
Dallas: $18mil.- I think they’re looking for a little more affordable solution on the interior and a more dominant wing player or Point Guard. I read today that their stated goal this offseason is to get a player that is a little better than Dirk at this point to take some of that load off of him…even Dirk confirmed this. But, we know Mark Cuban ain’t afraid to throw money around.
Denver: $11mil. (if they waive their rights to Rudy Fernandez and Javelle McGee)- I think they’ll end up keeping McGee. Plus they like to run in that thin air too much for Roy.
Houston: $20mil.- This number assumes they don’t pick up Jeff Adrien, Greg Smith, Sam Dalembert , Patrick Patterson’s options (if they do then that number drops by just over $10mil.), they DON’T waive the rights to Courtney Lee, and they DON’T resign Dragic. They could decide to try to keep the guys they got and chase a cheaper option at center, but we know they have been searching desperately for their replacement for Yao for a couple years now. The Rockets are a legit threat. Didn’t they force Denver or Memphis to overpay by matching their offer for Nene or Gasol respectively?
Milwaukee: $12mil.- A reliable big man would easily push the Bucks into thick of the 2nd tier playoff teams in the east. I just don’t see how Roy fits the Ellis/Jennings up-tempo style. They have the 12th pick in the draft with some solid NBA ready bigs along with a couple decent youngsters on their roster that can get up and down the court (Udoh and Sanders). Don’t see them forcing our hand with Roy.
Minnesota: $10.7mil.- This assumes they don’t pick up the team option on Martell Webster and they waive the rookie rights to Beasley and Anthony Randolph. Hibbert would probably be a great fit for them and give them a disgusting duo of Love stretching the floor for Roy and Love collecting DRebs so Roy can get a head start down the court. However, they have nothing on the wings and will likely address that weakness instead.
New Orleans: $7.7mil.- On the surface, that’s not enough to sign Hibbert. However, they COULD waive the rights to Eric Gordon and free up $9+mil. in cap hold space. I just don’t see them going in this direction. With two draft picks in the top 10 in this loaded draft, they have a chance to go the OKC route and build a strong, young team over the next few years on the cheap.
Phoenix: $24.5mil.- With Gortat looking like a steal (see above contract) and neither Hibbert or Gortat capable of really having a mid-range game to slide over to the PF spot I don’t see it happening. But, I might actually make a play for him if I was them. They’d have a pretty loaded front court and still enough money to sign a scorer. Still, they have nothing on the wings and a looming question mark at point guard.
Portland: $17.2mil.- Their cap space number could actually go up well over $20mil. if Crawford opts out, which looks likely. I’m sure Aldridge would love to get someone in there who could take some of that post responsibility off of him. None the less, they really have bigger needs. They have little on the wings (even if they bring back Batuum, him and Wesley just don’t give them the scoring punch they need) and they need a point guard and depth at every possession. I just don’t see how they could justify the cost ($25+mil. on two non-franchise big men) for a team that will struggle mightily to get above .500 with their weak backcourt/wings.
Sacramento: $8.9mil.- They could free up $7.5mil. by waiving the rights to Jason Thompson (I already assumed they waived the rookie rights to Dante Green). Learning from Hibbert could do wonders for Cousins…but he wouldn’t. Even though Cousins is listed as a PF, there’s so few big body players with legit post moves in the league that Cousins and the Kings would be better served to continue to polish those skills (get his head on straight) and use him at the 5. They have question marks at the point along with a lack of depth that makes Hibbert a luxury they won’t chase.
San Antonio: $10.8mil.- This one is odd. If Duncan retires, I could see Hibbert sliding right into that spot and keep the Spurs very relevant. Except, I think Duncan still runs the floor slightly better than Hibbert, plus I just can’t see the Spurs making a big splash in free agency. They haven’t really done that in decades.
Toronto: $8.9mil.- They’d have to waive the rights to retain Bayless and his $7.5mil. rookie cap hold to get far enough under to sign Hibbs….but if they did, they’d have a good C in Hibbert (fits nicely with their glaring need for toughness), PF- Bargniani, G/F- Derozen, a solid distributor in Calderon, and some decent big man depth in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. They’d desperately need some wing scoring, but could potentially address that with the 8th pick. I could see them being interested, but not sure if Hibbert would be.
Utah: $9.7mil.- Al Jefferson, Milsap, Favors, Kanter….don’t think they need a big man. Only reason I put them here is b/c they technically could make a small move and clear the space to sign Roy…but mostly because they have no draft pick this year, very little other than great depth and youth/experience mix in the front court. Jefferson, Harris, and Milsap are all entering the final year of their contract. You have to wonder what they’ve got planned. A guy like DC could really help them. Wonder if they’d offer us anything of value.
That is just over half the league with enough cap space (or a quick decision to not retain a restricted free agent away from having enough cap space) to force us to pay/overpay Hibbert. I only see Boston (depending on their mindset) and Houston having the desire and favorable local market size afford to over pay him and force us to pay more than the $12mil./year that I think he’s essentially earned. I could see Cleveland, Dallas, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio (if Duncan retires), and Toronto making a surprise run at Roy. But, don’t see them offering him more than we’d feel comfortable matching. Brooklyn is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a new stadium, wrapped in the financial portfolio of an odd ball Russian plutocrat. But, Roy’s lack of flash seems like enough to make him a consolation signing that would will be so far down the Nets’ list of targets that he will be retained as a Pacer by the time the Nets decide to settle for him.
My prediction: Roy Hibbert will be the starting center of the 2012-13 Indiana Pacers after signing a 5 year contract worth $60-$62million. Ideally it will be structured in such a way that his lowest annual salary is either in the 2013-14 or 2014-15 season (the 2 off-seasons we have to look at resigning or replacing West and Granger respectively). I know this isn’t mind blowing, but I feel like I did a good job assembling the data and making a case for the salary numbers most of us were already comfortably settled on.
*Salary numbers are compiled from Hoopshype.com data or googling articles about player’s contract signings.