Apr 30, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) celebrates against the Orlando Magic during the second half of game two in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Orlando 93-78. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE
But after a week to explore all options and let the free agent market shake itself out, the decision to bring back Hibbert at a rate just above his best comp (Marc Gasol, 4-year, $57 million) had to be an easy one for Kevin Pritchard and Donnie Walsh.
The best part was how both sides handled the delicate situation. This was a rugged business transaction that, as Eric Gordon has shown, can take both sides on an emotional roller coaster. But throughout the past eight days, there was no noise out of the Fieldhouse and Roy Hibbert followed suit by leaving the negotiations to his reps and keeping mum to maintain his rep as the popular player folks in Indy are happy to see returning to the Pacers.
Hibbert will need all of that good will around town going forward since he will be making the big money that creates big expectations. As long as the big fella keeps working and improving as he has leading up to his big pay day, there won't be much to complain about. For now, Hibbert can throw out that big wignspan of his and embrace Pacers fans as he always does, letting them know he wanted to stay with the team the whole time.
As for the front office, they simply have done the first part of what they said they would do. Sign Hibbert and George Hill to keep the starting unit together. Now they have to follow through with fortifying the depth off the bench. Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson can't be the only change to the roster. O.J. Mayo, Courtney Lee or a similar player they can squeeze under the cap or trade for should be next.
But now that the Pacers don't have to quickly make a move before matching Hibbert's offer and instead can wait to sign the big fella and Hill until they are done adding to the roster, they may be able to tap into that patience once again. Ken Berger tweets (here and here) that the early spending spree may be drying up the market for those left looking for more than mid-level money ($5 mil/per).
Since the Pacers should be able to offer a bit more than the mid-level, they may end up with their man after all. Who? Who knows? But until you hear something out of the Fieldhouse, don't assume nothing is happening.