of the Indianapolis Star writes
that it is a no-brainer for the Indiana Pacers to keep restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert, who agreed to accept
a 4-year, $58 million maximum offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers once the NBA's free agency moratorium lifts on July 11.
He quotes both Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard and president Donnie Walsh on their outlook.
New Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard had it right at his introductory news conference.
"Continuity moving forward with good teams is real important," he said. "You want to keep the same guys because, for whatever reason, they learn each other better. You look at all the elite teams who had had success, they stay together with small changes. This team isn’t about blowing it up and starting it new. We have to keep the same pieces in place and we have to keep growing."
When I spoke to team President Donnie Walsh on Monday, he sounded like a man squarely in the middle of a negotiation. Which he is.
"We’re either going to match or not match, but we’re looking at all our options and looking at what else we might do," he said. "We’re trying to make our team better, but our first priority is still keeping Roy. We’re obviously working under a (salary) cap, and you want to keep the team in a position of being able to grow as you go along. That’s what we’re analyzing right now."
Pritchard was introduced prior to the start of free agency. Walsh's comment came after Portland agreed to extend its offer.
It was reported earlier this weekend
that the Pacers would begin to investigate other potential options at center in case they didn't match on Hibbert.
While Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before free agency opened
that Hibbert "wasn't going anywhere" there are some who don't view
the Pacers matching as a slam dunk.
The Pacers reportedly agreed to re-sign
restricted free agent guard George Hill to a 5-year contract on Monday.
Blazers GM Neil Olshey and president Larry Miller made Hibbert their first stop
of the 2012 Free Agency period. Hibbert was reportedly "blown away
" by Olshey and company.
Hibbert, 25, just completed his fourth season with the Indiana Pacers, posting career-high averages of 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He played in 65 of Indiana's 66 games last season.
Hibbert, listed at 7-foot-2 and 278 pounds, is generally regarded as a top-5 free agent in this year's class and the best available center.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter