After Larry Bird publicly prodded Roy Hibbert to opt out of the final year of his contract by making very pointed and calculated remarks about the 7-footer's decreased productivity, the marriage between the Pacers and their center always seemed more likely to end in divorce than reconciliation. Transitioning to a more uptempo playing style and having selected a new, seemingly more athletic big man out of the University of Texas, reports of Indiana's attempt to break ties with Hibbert and shed his salary should come as no real surprise:
ESPN sources say that the Lakers and Pacers are actively discussing a trade where L.A. would take Roy Hibbert into salary-cap space— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 4, 2015
Sending the former All-Star to the Lakers, who were turned down by both LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, will free up salary-cap space for the Pacers as they try to fill out the rest of their roster around Paul George, George Hill, and newcomer Monta Ellis.
Though most of this summer's blue chips are already off the board, shedding Hibbert's salary will still be more valuable in the here and now than it will be next summer when every franchise will have an extra $20 million of cap-space due to the NBA's new highly lucrative TV deal.
Hibbert averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks during his seventh season with the Pacers. Though his offensive numbers were down from the two seasons he was named an All-Star, the 7-footer was still an elite rim protector for Indiana's defense last season, allowing just 42.6% of opponent field goal attempts at the rim, per SportVU defensive impact data. The big man's numbers saw a decline, at least in part, because head coach Frank Vogel reduced his minutes to experiment with smaller lineups following the All-Star break.
A rumored three-way, sign-and-trade deal between the Pacers, Mavericks, and Clippers that would have dealt Indiana's center to Los Angeles was allegedly shot down due to Dallas' lack of willingness to net the Clippers a replacement center.
For more about Larry Bird's comments and Roy Hibbert's season with the Pacers, hop here.