NBA AM: Roy Hibbert Struggling As A Max Player
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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The Indiana Pacers entered last offseason with the belief that they would be able to re-sign starting center Roy Hibbert for less than the max. However, when the Portland Trail Blazers came with a four-year, $58 million offer sheet, the Pacers didn’t have a choice but to match unless they wanted to let the young All-Star walk without receiving anything in return. They had made too much progress in recent years, thanks partially to Hibbert’s development, to let a few million dollars come between them keeping their promising core together.
Although five games into the regular season is too early to have buyer’s remorse, Hibbert is admittedly not living up to the expectations that came with his new contract. The team needs him to play big more than ever with Danny Granger, their leading scorer last year, out for the next three months with a knee injury. But Hibbert hasn’t answered the call, averaging just 8.8 points and 7.6 rebounds, both down from last year.
“I’m just not getting it done, not in a rhythm,” Hibbert said to Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star. “I feel like I’m getting the shots, but they’re not going in. I’ve got to put in extra work and get it right.”
The numbers back up Hibbert’s claim as he is shooting 42 percent from the floor, which is the lowest field goal percentage of his career.
“I’m not finishing in the paint the way I want to finish,” Hibbert said. “My teammates are doing a good job of getting me the ball.
“It’s a funk that I have to get out of. People can say what they want to say. I know they’re going to say things. I know what I’m worth. I know what I can do, it’s just a tough stretch now.”
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel doesn’t agree with Hibbert, and is actually less concerned with his finishing rate as he is another issue.
“He’s playing with guys he’s been playing with for a couple years,” Vogel said. “If we’re going to turn the ball over four or five times each game trying to get him the ball, it doesn’t matter what his field goal percentage is. We have to be effective in our post feeding and the execution of our post offense.
“[Hibbert] had stretches like this every year. It’s something you can’t overreact to. You have to keep going and doing your work and he’ll be fine.”
With Granger out, the Pacers will continue to give Hibbert every opportunity to step up and revert back to the kind of player they felt was worthy of a $58 million this offseason. While they may be disappointed with their investment so far, there’s plenty of time for him to turn things around and prove their money was wisely spent.
HOOPSWORLD TV: Enes Kanter
Second-year center Enes Kanter has come into the 2012-13 season in the best shape of his life, ready to make a bigger impact on the Utah Jazz. He’s coming off of his best performance of the regular season against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers, posting nine points in a Jazz victory. HOOPSWORLD recently talked to Kanter about his improved conditioning, what he needs to do to earn a bigger spot in the rotation and more in the latest edition of HOOPSWORLD TV.
Kobe Laughs Off “Death Stare”
As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle, head coach Mike Brown’s seat gets hotter and hotter. Their recent loss to the Utah Jazz dropped them to 1-4 overall and during that loss team leader Kobe Bryant gave Brown a heated stare that immediately created controversy. Controversy that Bryant says there’s nothing to.
“I’m too old to deal with that stuff, I really am,” Bryant said to Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been his biggest supporter. I’m really too old to be dealing with childish things.
“Everybody here would be frustrated, losing a game. You’re angry. It has nothing to do with one particular person. God, people are bored.”
Bryant maintained his stance even after viewing the clip on a reporter’s phone. However, even with Bryant and Lakers executive vice president Jerry Buss giving Brown a vote of confidence, the fact of the matter is this team will have to start consistently winning games in order for this story to truly go away.
The Lakers start a six-game home stand tonight against the Golden State Warriors. There are no back-to-backs during the stretch, giving the team plenty of time to prepare between contests. They will likely be without starting point guard Steve Nash for most if not all of stretch.
Former Mavericks Happy In New York
Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler were intricate parts in the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run in 2010-11. The two have rejoined forces in New York, looking to help take the Knicks to similar heights. While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban let Chandler walk because he couldn’t afford his price tag the following offseason, he was livid this summer that Kidd joined him.
“My first intention was to stay,” Kidd said to The New York Post. “But, then looking into it and thinking it through, I thought this was a great opportunity not only to play at the Garden but on a team that can be competitive. I talked to my family and we felt coming here was the best situation to be successful.”
Chandler wasn’t surprised by Kidd’s decision because of the way he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Mavericks management and ownership as well.
“I wasn’t shocked because of the direction of the organization,” Chandler said. “Jason was coming down to the last years of his career. There’s great personnel here and he feels like he has another chance to win a championship.”
When Chandler walked, the Mavericks’ championship hopes left with him. The team lost in the first round of the playoffs last year and looks almost nothing like the 2011 championship squad now aside from Dirk Nowitzki. Meanwhile, the Knicks are 3-0 and looking like true competitors in the East.
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats on tap for today starting with mine at 11 a.m. EST. You can get your questions in here about the NBA and NCAA season, which gets underway tonight. Alex Kennedy will follow me up at 1 p.m. EST and Larry Coon will wrap things up at 3 p.m. EST.