Portland Trail Blazers: Can Roy Hibbert Be a Piece to the Puzzle?

Wesley HodgesContributor IIIJuly 1, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 22:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on May 22, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After making a splash in the recent NBA draft with their two lottery picks, general manager Neil Olshey and Portland Trail Blazers management quickly showed that they weren't done.

Soon after the NBA free agency period of 2012 began, the team reportedly offered a max contract to Roy Hibbert, a free agent center who was with the Indiana Pacers last season.

Hibbert is a restricted free agent, meaning that once the Blazers have signed him to an offer sheet, the Pacers will then have three days to match it or he will leave the team.

Clearly, the Blazers have put a lot of thought into this move, and as they've shown in the past, they aren't afraid to go after their guy.  Choosing Hibbert means that the team isn't looking for a quick fix, and rightfully so.  Patience is the key.

But is Hibbert right for the Blazers?

My feelings are mixed on the subject.

Hibbert is an up-and-coming player, somewhat similar to what Greg Oden could have been had he stayed healthy.  In fact, the team may have released Oden during last season precisely with this particular move in mind.

So it's not like the Blazers are throwing money at a guy who is already on the decline—like the New Jersey Nets just did by giving former Blazer Gerald Wallace $40 million over four years.  Was there any other team that would even have come close to touching that offer?

Anyway, back to Hibbert.  He should mesh well with Aldridge and can probably have an immediate impact on the Blazers interior defense, and he seems like a good character guy as well.  A core of Aldridge, Hibbert, Nicolas Batum and this year's top pick, Damian Lillard, might not be on par with Oklahoma City, but it certainly looks like the start of something promising.

There are some downsides, however.

If Hibbert joins the Blazers, it would come at a hefty price, somewhere around an average of $14 million annually.  This could make it difficult for the Blazers to keep Batum.

Either way, it seems like a lot for a guy who at most will probably average 15 points and maybe nine rebounds a game.  Then again, if Hibbert does develop into a reliable low-post scorer, he could become extremely difficult to stop for almost any other NBA player.

We'll see how this all plays out, as more details come out about the salary offer and what implications it could have for the rest of the Blazers' summer plans.

For now, the verdict is up in the air, but you have to admire this team for having a plan and doing everything possible to make it happen.