On the opening day of the highly anticipated 2012 NBA free agency period, the Portland Trail Blazers have offered restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert the maximum contract allowed under the NBA's newly revised collective bargaining agreement.
Hibbert was offered a four-year, $58 million offer sheet by Portland and his former team, the Indiana Pacers, now have three days to match that offer or let Hibbert head to Portland, should he choose to sign.
According to sources, however, the Pacers have not yet offered Hibbert the maximum in return, and the 7'2" 25-year-old is leaning towards signing the Trail Blazers' offer sheet, which would put the aforementioned process in motion.
The potential addition of Hibbert would provide a much needed boost to Portland's frontcourt, and it could complete one of the best power forward-center tandems in the league with All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Hibbert reached his potential in his fourth season in the league. The former Georgetown product averaged a solid 12.8 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per contest en route to his first NBA All-Star appearance.
On the other hand, the possible loss of Hibbert would be major for the Pacers, who are extremely thin at the center position besides the All Star. Indiana's recent string of success has largely revolved around Hibbert, small forward Danny Granger and point guard Darren Collison.
Losing Hibbert could have dire consequences for the team going forward.
It will be intriguing to see Indiana's strategy if Hibbert ultimately decides to accept Portland's offer sheet, but Indiana's newly revamped front office staff should attempt to do whatever it takes to keep their core intact.
If they don't, they should be prepared to either face the consequences or pursue a replacement, possibly on the free agency market.
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