NBA Sunday: Blazers Offer Hibbert Max Deal
The Free Agency period officially began at 12:01am Friday morning, so there’s an explosion of news today, as expected. Here are a few of the stories that started circulating while you were sleeping:
Portland Offers Roy Hibbert the Max
The Indiana Pacers were hoping to be frugal in their attempts to re-sign free-agent center Roy Hibbert, but thanks to the Portland Trail Blazers, that’s not going to happen.
According to SI’s Sam Amick, new Portland GM Neil Olshey and team president Larry Miller made the midnight visit to Hibbert and offered him a max deal. Hibbert hasn’t signed anything yet, but he’ll now be able to take that offer back to Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard in Indiana with directions to either match it or let him walk the Oregon Trail.
The Pacers had previously not offered Hibbert a max contract—not necessarily because they didn’t think he was worth it, but because they knew he was restricted and didn’t want to bid against themselves. Indy has plenty of cap space, but the Indiana front office has constantly talked about frugality and not over-spending to re-sign their talented young assets.
Hibbert is the most important player to re-sign since he’s the only All-Star they’ve had since 2009, but George Hill, Darren Collison, Paul George, and Tyler Hansbrough also will need extensions in the next couple of years, so using every penny of that cap space wisely has always been a priority. Whether or not Walsh and Pritchard change in that stance and offer a max deal for Hibbert has yet to be seen, but on the surface it certainly seems as though Hibbert, if anybody on that Indiana roster, would be worth the financial gamble.
One thing to keep in mind is that Indiana can offer a fifth year, while the best Portland can do is a four-year deal. Assuming Hibbert wants to remain with the Pacers as he’s always contended, that fifth year at max bucks should be enough to keep him in blue and gold.
The question is going to be whether or not he’s worth that much. As far as age and potential are concerned, there’s no question he’s worth a lot, but is 12.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, and 2 bpg the kind of stat-line one associates with a max-level player?
The Pacers don’t want to lose an asset as valuable as Hibbert for nothing, but that could happen if the new front office decides they can’t justify spending that much on a guy who just doesn’t produce like a superstar.
Portland, meanwhile, clearly has visions of adding a premier center to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, despite the drafting of Meyers Leonard with the 11th pick in this last Thursday’s draft. Sticking a bunch of shooters around Aldridge and Hibbert wouldn’t be a bad way to build the franchise, and Damian Lillard looks like the real deal as an NBA point guard. This is a move that would do a lot for pushing the Blazers back towards respectability.
And if they don’t get Hibbert, Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that that Portland will go hard after Chicago Bulls restricted free agent center Omer Asik. Asik is also entertaining offers from the Houston Rockets, and the Bulls have vowed to match anything within reason.
Asik is the back-up plan, however, while Hibbert remains front and center for the Blazers. Is their max offer enough to pry him away from the Pacers? That all depends on Walsh and Pritchard now.
Replacing Ray Allen in Boston
Almost from the moment the Boston Celtics lost to the Miami HEAT in the Eastern Conference Finals this past year, Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen started putting himself in a situation to back up Dwyane Wade in Miami as a way to end his long and illustrious career on as high a note as possible.
The only problem with this always has been whether or not Allen really wants to take Miami’s mini mid-level of $3 million a year over three years. That’s not a ton of money for a player of Ray’s pedigree, but the trade-off for him would be pursuing a championship with the team who just won one, rather than with the team who’s starting to look too old to do it again.
Assuming that Allen does take his talents to South Beach, the Boston Celtics will have to start looking for depth at shooting guard to replace him. Avery Bradley proved this year that he’ll probably be the starter next season, but he’s a defensive-minded player. A team needs scoring at the two, as well, which is why Boston is reportedly giving real consideration to Mavericks free agent shooter Jason Terry, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
While Terry would love to stay in Dallas, where he is extremely popular and has done amazing work in the community, Boston could be a perfectly acceptable fit for him. Terry averaged 15 ppg for the Mavericks last season and is the kind of veteran that would fit in nicely with Paul Pierce and the to-be-resigned Kevin Garnett.
If Terry doesn’t work out as a back-up plan to Allen, the Celtics are expected to pursue Jamal Crawford, O.J. Mayo, or Nick Young instead.
Minnesota Looking for a Shooting Guard–Is Nicolas Batum It?
So do you think the Minnesota Timberwolves are a little interested in finding a starting shooting guard to add to their talented young nucleus?
The most notable meeting with Minnesota so far has been Portland restricted free agent Nicholas Batum, according to CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes. Long considered one of the most underrated guards in the league, Batum has been handed an offer from the Timberwolves, reportedly valued at $45-50 million over four years. Unlike someone like Jamal Crawford, however, Batum is restricted, and the Blazers have long claimed that they’d match any reasonable offer for him. Whether they consider this reasonable will be discovered when Portland makes a decision to match it or not.
If that seems a little high for Batum, it is, but no one’s prying away a restricted free agent that talented without making the old team balk. That’s overpayment, but Minnesota really wants the kid. There’s no other way to do it.
If that doesn’t work out, there’s always Crawford, who reportedly had six teams contact him at midnight last night, according to Haynes. Predictably, the Wolves were one of them, but Minnesota has been pushing to get Crawford since before last season’s trade deadline. They love him now just as much as they did then, and that should fuel a pretty strong push to bring him to the Twin Cities should Portland match the Batum offer. The other five teams to have contacted Crawford last night include the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, L.A. clippers, Phoenix Suns, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Finally, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Brandon Roy’s first free agent meeting was also with the Timberwolves, and the team apparently sent the big guns for him. Owner Glen Taylor, GM David Kahn, and head coach Rick Adelman all met with Roy in Seattle Friday morning to make their pitch to the kid they once drafted and then traded to the Trail Blazers for Randy Foye.
Roy will also meet with the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, and Golden State Warriors, but Minnesota has perhaps the largest hole at shooting guard of all those teams and he could be given the best opportunity to play there if that’s what he wants.
Whatever happens, Portland has feelers out for three pretty significant free agent twos, any of which would seriously fill a need for them next season and beyond. They’re one of the most aggressive teams out there right now, and if one of these players ends up signing, it will clearly have been worth it.
Please follow the HOOPSWORLD Free Agency Diary for all the latest in free agency comings and goings. The flurry of activity Friday morning is just the beginning. We’re in for a whirlwind of activity in the coming weeks, and we’ll have everything you need right here.