The Indiana Pacers' struggles in the young season haven't gone unnoticed, and it goes much further than the injury that took Danny Granger out, and will hold him out of the game until sometime during the 2013 portion of the season.
One of the biggest reasons for their struggles, and this is something known to fantasy basketball players worldwide, has been due to the fact that Roy Hibbert isn't living up to what the Pacers paid him over the season.
Hibbert grabbed himself a four-year deal with the Pacers to the tune of $58 million, an amount of money that should get the team more than nine points and eight rebounds per game. They paid him to be a franchise player, and he's been anything but that in the first few weeks of the season.
The problem surrounding the Pacers is that the injury to Granger left the team without a go-to scorer, and while it seemed like they would be able to fill that role with Hibbert, Paul George and George Hill collectively, that hasn't been the case.
In fact, Hibbert and George are averaging fewer points per game this season compared to last, and all three of them have been less efficient than the 2012 season. The only guy really picking up the slack on the offensive end has been David West, but he's going at it while shooting just 43 percent from the floor.
Needless to say, the Pacers need all hands on deck as soon as possible so they can set the ship back in the right direction.
That's why comments made by Hibbert early on Saturday are so concerning for the Pacers' immediate hopes and their fans' hopes that this team could morph into a title contender with a little bit of improvement (h/t Bill Ingram, Hoopsworld):
Darren was my good friend. We talked, sat together on the plane, used to go have dinner on the road, lunch, always watching film together, just talking it through. I’d be frustrated at him at times and he’d be frustrated with me, but we’d talk it through. I used to get a lot of open layups, just him throwing the ball to me and the give-n-go cut. That’s something he’d get once or twice a game, but things change and obviously you have to adjust.
It seems that one of the biggest reasons for the struggles that Hibbert has had is that the Pacers traded Darren Collison, one of his close friends, to the Dallas Mavericks.
That seems like less of a problem and more of an excuse when you look at it from a distance.
Sure, it's no fun to see your friend go, but it doesn't make sense for an NBA player to dwell on it after it happened. As we've heard too often over the past few seasons, the NBA is a business, and part of this business just happens to be guys getting shipped in and out quite frequently.
Let's take a look at how Collison is doing, who I'm assuming found Hibbert to be just as good a friend as Hibbert did Collison.
Through 10 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Collison has proved himself with 14 points per game and just over six assists while shooting 46 percent. All of those happen to be career highs.
Collison is a big part of what's keeping the Mavericks alive without Dirk Nowitzki, while Hibbert is one of the many holes in the sinking ship that is the Indiana Pacers.
Looking further into separated friendships, a split didn't stop Kevin Durant from dominating the offensive end of the floor or Jeff Green from returning to the league after an aneurysm nearly ended his career. The two were great friends before they met in the NBA, yet they are both going strong today long after Green was traded to Boston.
The point here is that it's okay to dwell on a missing friend, and it's fine to wish he was still playing alongside you, but to use it as an excuse for playing so badly that regression can't even be an explanation just doesn't make much sense.
What's more, it doesn't seem as if Hibbert was too worried about continuing to play with his friend Collison back in July when Portland came knocking on his door. Hibbert signed an offer sheet with Portland that would have made him a Trail Blazer if the Pacers didn't think he was worth the four-year, $58 million deal.
He signed the offer sheet more than a week before the Pacers traded Collison, a move that Hibbert apparently would have been fine with if it meant he was deciding to leave, but not if Indiana was deciding they didn't want Collison anymore.
It's not the time for Hibbert to air his disappointment and longing for his lost friend, it's time to take out the aggression on the boards and on his opponents. It's time for him to step up, be a man and earn the contract that he signed in the offseason.
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