UPDATE: Sunday, July 1, 1:15 p.m., Ryan Phillips
ESPN's Marc Stein is now reporting that the Trail Blazers will sign Hibbert to a max offer sheet on July 11. The Pacers will then have three days to match that offer or they will lose the All-Star center.
The first big news of the NBA's free-agency period has hit, and it is certainly a shocker. The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly offered Indiana Pacers restricted free-agent center Roy Hibbert a max contract.
According to Sam Amick of SI.com, Portland general manager Neil Olshey and team president Larry Miller visited the 7'2" center in Washington, D.C., and offered him a max deal. The Pacers have not offered Hibbert a max contract yet.
The Blazers can offer Hibbert a four-year contract, while the Pacers can provide a fifth year. If Portland and Hibbert do come to an agreement and an offer sheet is signed, the Pacers will have three days to match the offer.
Hibbert is a true center with the size and ability to be a game-changer in the middle, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that Portland is going after him so hard.
The 25-year-old is coming off his best season, during which he averaged career highs in points (12.8), rebounds (8.8), blocks (2.0) and minutes (29.8). He was a big reason for Indiana's surprising third-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers are now in a tough situation where they almost have to match this offer. Luckily for them, they are currently well under the salary cap and have the ability to do so.
Meanwhile, Portland is clearly trying to get post help for All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. After drafting Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard with the No. 11 pick, the Blazers are seeking additional height in going after Hibbert, who is regarded as the top free-agent big man available.
Players can't officially agree to deals until July 11. When that day comes, expect Hibbert to sign Portland's offer sheet. After that, the Pacers will have three days to make a decision.