May 22, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) during game 5 of the 2012 NBA eastern conference semi-finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Hours into free agency, things have already begun to take shape, with Sam Amick reporting that Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and team president Larry Miller visited Roy Hibbert in Washington D.C. The result of the discussions was a max contract offer by the Blazers, who aim to acquire the Indiana Pacers restricted free agent. Amick followed it up with the bit of news that the Pacers chose to not offer one themselves.
The difficulty in the matter for the Pacers is of course in the way they want to delicately handle their salary cap given recent mistakes in cap situations, but with an All-Star center in a league short on true big men, the matter becomes much more difficult. For the Pacers, they have decided to not go overboard on Hibbert by choosing to not offer him a max deal. Indiana will still have time to mull over the decision, however, as an offer sheet cannot be signed until July 11, when the Pacers will have three days to match the offer or see the big man walk.
Hibbert had a career season last year, made the Eastern Conference All-Star team, and grew into one of the league's top centers, but given the lack of true center talent, it remains debatable whether Hibbert is truly a max level player. While the Blazers can offer a max deal for four years, Indiana can hope to entice Hibbert with a fifth year while doing so at a lower annual salary. But nothing is guaranteed for the Pacers, and Hibbert has every reason to look out for his own best interests in regards to his first big NBA payday regardless of how much he would like to stay in Indianapolis as a member of the budding Pacers.