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NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Roy Hibbert Must Stay with Indiana Pacers

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NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Roy Hibbert Must Stay with Indiana Pacers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Portland Trailblazers' LaMarcus Aldridge and possible Blazer Roy Hibbert at the All-Star Game.

After posting career-bests in points, rebounds and blocks, Roy Hibbert is a restricted free agent still within the Indiana Pacers' grasp. That all could be changing very fast, however. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reports that the Portland Trail Blazers have offered the four-year pro a max contract.

If Hibbert wants to ensure a long and prosperous NBA career, he must stay in Indiana where the pieces are already in place.

Hibbert's fourth NBA season was the charm. The 7'2" center helped the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Miami Heat in six games.

Still, posting a 42-24 regular-season record proves that the Pacers are on the right track and will be a contender for years to come. That is, if Hibbert doesn't skip town for the money.

According to SI.com's Amick, the former Georgetown Hoya has also been offered a max contract from an unnamed franchise. But he's taking his time with Portland's offer:

A source with knowledge of the meeting said Indiana did not offer a max deal at the outset of the free-agent negotiating period and, unless that changes, Hibbert is leaning toward signing the Trail Blazers' four-year, $58 million offer sheet.

This is one instance where Hibbert shouldn't take the money and run. The Pacers are moving in the right direction and need his services in order to succeed.

Hibbert's 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and two blocks per game during the 2011-2012 season make him the foundation to the Pacers' house. Others may flash more explosiveness, but Hibbert is the glue that keeps the team stabilized.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Pacers have an excellent mixture of youth and experience, something Hibbert can't take for granted. Because of the parts around him, Hibbert doesn't have to act as the superstar.

Thriving young talents like Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and George Hill are all hitting their stride. Unfortunately for Indiana, Hill too is a free agent and may take the same route as Hibbert.

At the same time, seasoned vets like Leandro Barbosa, Danny Granger and David West are all heavy contributors for the Pacers. Yet Barbosa is a free agent as well.

If the Pacers can keep the band together, they'll need to scrounge up all the change they can get from underneath the couch cushions. Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star explains that the Pacers will have roughly $10 million to spend in cap space before the number will to infringe upon re-signing Hibbert and Hill.

Nonetheless, a max contract has a funny way of hampering a team's finances. Contract discussions usually don't go as planned, and now the Pacers have their backs against the wall.

Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard told the Indianapolis Star's Wells that the team has every intention of maintaining the roster already established.

"Continuity moving forward with good teams is real important," Pritchard said. "You want to keep the same guys because for whatever reason they learn each other better. You look at the elite teams who have had success, they stay together with small changes.

"This team isn't about blowing it up and starting it new. We have to keep the same pieces in place and we have to keep growing."

Continuity is something the Pacers can offer Hibbert. But somebody must take a hometown discount in order for that plan to come to fruition.

The Pacers don't need to be repaired; they just need to be maintained. Roy Hibbert has excelled in Indiana, and Indiana has excelled with him. Therefore, the symbiotic relationship makes sense for both parties heading towards the 2012 season.

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