The question now is, how confident are they that he won't lose it again?
Hibbert, largely MIA for most of the season and playoffs to this point, has now begun to resemble his former All-Star self. In the last three games against the Washington Wizards, all wins, Hibbert has averaged 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
While it looked like the Pacers couldn't have given Hibbert away after his series against the Atlanta Hawks, his trade value has now begun to creep back.
Should Indiana capitalize on this and deal their high-priced big man this summer, or should they stick with Hibbert and hope he continues his resurgence?
Hibbert's Value and Contract
While he's taken a step back this season, Hibbert is still a 7'2" shot-blocking machine who can anchor a defense.
Despite what struggles he went through offensively and on the glass, Hibbert remained a defensive force. He finished the season fourth in blocked shots (2.3), fifth in defensive win shares (5.0) and sixth in defensive rating (98.2) while ranking second behind Joakim Noah for Defensive Player of the Year.
That's the good part.
Offensively, Hibbert just doesn't dominate the way he should given his frame. He shot a career-low 43.9 percent from the field this season, and Hibbert's 10.8 points per game was the lowest amount since his rookie year.
Rebounding was another major concern. Hibbert, listed at 7'2" and 290 pounds, was out-rebounded by three of his own teammates, including 6'5" shooting guard Lance Stephenson. Hibbert's 6.6 boards per game tied him with Chris Bosh for 22nd among all centers and 47th overall in the NBA.
His playoff series against the Hawks was a disaster, and he even had teammates questioning his play.
His contract, while rather large, isn't unmovable.
Hibbert is owed $14.9 million next season and holds a player option for $15.5 million the year after (via ShamSports.com).
This is a good amount of coin, but when Hibbert is at his best, he's absolutely worth it. Teams that gamble on Hibbert to reach this level will be ones in need of a strong defensive center and ones that would have enough offense surrounding him to avoid worrying about his production on that end of the court.
Possible Trade Partners
Teams interested in a trade would have to possess enough cap room to absorb Hibbert's salary or send back enough matching money in any potential deal.
Based on team need, salary structure and willingness to take a risk, the teams that I believe would take a flier on Hibbert include the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers would be the most likely to make a deal for Hibbert. They made him a four-year, $58 million contract offer in 2012 that the Pacers ultimately matched.
While current starting center Robin Lopez had a strong year, a productive Hibbert would be a huge defensive upgrade. Portland has enough offense in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge that they wouldn't need Hibbert to score a ton of points. He could focus on doing what he does best: protecting the paint and anchoring the defense.
With Portland likely exiting the playoffs soon, they should be willing to make upgrades this offseason and spend some extra money doing it.
The Blazers could offer up a package of Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright and Allen Crabbe to match up salaries. If the Pacers were playing hardball, they could ask for some draft compensation as well.
Should the Pacers Trade Hibbert?
Absolutely yes, should they find a willing partner and a fair deal.
Hibbert's scoring total, field-goal percentage and rebounding have all regressed each of the past three seasons, while his yearly salary only increases.
With the NBA transitioning to a smaller, faster version, classic centers like Hibbert are now dying out. A team with an outside shooting threat at one of its own post positions is a nightmare guard for Hibbert, as evidenced by Pero Antic and Paul Millsap during the Atlanta series.
By trading Hibbert, the Pacers could use that money to re-sign Stephenson, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. It also allows them more flexibility to upgrade the point guard position, as George Hill has largely underperformed as well.
The Pacers should act this summer and use what little trade value Hibbert possesses while they still can.
All stats provided by basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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