The Indiana Pacers certainly had an interesting first day of the NBA's free agent period. With Roy Hibbert reportedly snagging a max offer (4-year, $58 mil) by lunchtime, the moratorium that forces players to wait until July 11th to sign an offer is a blessing.
And the moratorium may help the Pacers avoid dealing with a Portland offer at all, if the Blazers feel keeping forward Nicolas Batum is a higher priority. Portland writer Dwight Jaynes breaks down how the timing of the offers, signings and the salary cap are critical for teams trying to keep their own free agents while adding other players to the roster. In this case, Batum considering an offer from Minnesota.
Batum cannot sign the offer sheet until July 11 but by merely agreeing to it on that date, his cap hold -- now about $5.4 million -- would increase and thereby endanger Portland's ability to make a max-contract offer to Hibbert. When Batum, or any restricted free agent, signs an offer sheet, the cap hold with his original team immediately becomes the figure that he's signed for on the new offer sheet.
So if Batum's cap hold goes from $5.4 million to something over $10 million, the Blazers would be left with somewhere around $12 million of available room.
The Pacers have indicated at every point leading up to the max offer today that signing Hibbert is a priority, which means likely overpaying for the production he provides. So, it stands to reason that if Hibbert is able to force the Pacers hand to match more than the front office would like, then they have alternate plans.
The team does have a strong scouting staff, supported by statistical analysis to track down high-value players. The last thing Kevin Pritchard wants to do is let arguably the most popular Pacers player go without delivering other moves that improve the roster (I still like the theory that Paul Allen is trying to make Pritchard's life miserable with his max offer to Hibbert).
I still think the Pacers will match the lower offer Portland has put in front of Hibbert, but giving the full 5-year, $78 million (estimate on salary cap projections) would be nuts. If all they have to do is match the offer, then match the offer. Might need some sugar with that medicine, though.
UPDATE: King o' the cap, Larry Coon refute's Jaynes' reading of the cap hold with this tweet.