The Indiana Pacers went into the offseason prioritizing the need to build on what was working. That meant doing their best to sign George Hill and Roy Hibbert, two key players on a productive starting unit. A starting unit with players that came together late in the season with a young player in Paul George still finding his way and two players in Hill and David West who were in their first season with the team.
Another year together playing in the same system would be even better, right? With some tweaks to the supporting cast coming off the bench, the Pacers should once again be in the mix for a playoff run.
But at what cost?
Conrad Brunner does an excellent job of breaking down the cost of continuity for the Pacers, focusing on the decision facing the front office to match Roy Hibbert's max offer from Portland. Brunner gives both sides of the decision equal time, but zeroes in on the long-term implications with this comment.
And then there is the not-so-small matter of the future. Maxing Hibbert would raise the financial bar for every other contract the Pacers negotiate.
Consider a year from now when David West is an unrestricted free agent; how can the Pacers make an argument West should make even a dollar less than Hibbert? How about in two years, when Paul George comes due? If the big contracts start piling up, they'll be right back where they were a few years ago, with an overstuffed payroll and an understaffed roster.
Really glad my job doesn't depend on this decision. I don't think Hibbert is a max player but Portland has made it so. Can the Pacers afford the risk of upsetting the playing rotation and taking a step back this year? If they don't sign Hibbert this year and regress in the short-term, there may not be a decision to max West.
But to be fair, IF the Pacers don't sign Hibbert, the future of the team then depends on Plan B which has yet to be revealed.