Apparently, the 27-year-old may have had enough of roller coasters for a while.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, both Hibbert and the Pacers could be ready for a change this summer:
There is said to be some thought on both sides—management and Hibbert's—that a fresh start would be beneficial for everyone after the big man's second-half decline.
Hibbert's camp hasn't outright asked for a trade, sources say, but word is that it wouldn't exactly oppose one if the Pacers decide to actively shop their center.
None of this should come as a big surprise for anyone who had a ticket to Indiana's bipolar ride.
Early on, Hibbert was a defensive difference-maker and relatively reliable offensive safety valve. As the season wore on, though, he became a 7'2", 290-pound problem the Pacers couldn't hide.
After making the second All-Star appearance of his career in February, he tumbled down the NBA's hierarchy over the coming months. The player manning the middle to start Indiana's playoff run simply wasn't the same one who anchored the interior during the winter, as Basketball-Reference's All-Star splits highlight.
|PPG||FG%||RPG||BPG||Off Rtg||Def Rtg|
His postseason averages show a mild recovery (9.3 points on 45.1 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds), but his playoff run was essentially an unpredictable series of highs and lows. He had nine games with double-digit points but was held under five points six different times (including four scoreless outings). He grabbed at least eight rebounds on six different occasions but had another six games with two or fewer (including two without a single board).
His personal struggles became team issues when he told reporters in late March there were "some selfish dudes" inside of Indiana's locker room. Those words, as ESPN.com's Mike Wells and Brian Windhorst later explained, fractured an already fragile foundation:
As one person with knowledge of the situation put it: 'It divided the locker room big time.' The Pacers didn't become one of the best teams in the league on talent alone. Their chemistry—until about February—was a strong bond that appeared unbreakable. But Hibbert, according to sources, defied a core belief of the team, which is to keep dirty laundry in-house.
So it's more predictable than shocking that Hibbert and the Pacers would be open to the idea of change.
The hard part of this equation is identifying a landing spot for the expensive, slumping big man, as NBC Sports' Brett Pollakoff noted:
Not only does Hibbert have two years and $30 million remaining on his current contract, but the second year is a player option—meaning he can opt out of his deal following next season to become an unrestricted free agent.
Teams don’t give up real assets in exchange for one-year rentals, especially for guys like Hibbert who just came off of a season playing so far below the value on that contract.
In other words, Hibbert presents something of a lose-lose scenario for any potential suitor.
If he rediscovers his form, he could opt out of his contract in 2015 and take his talents elsewhere. If he struggles again next season, he could put a heavy, $15.5 million burden on someone's payroll for the 2015-16 campaign by playing out his deal.
So as badly as these sides may desire putting an end to this relationship, they could still break camp together this fall. Not that long ago, that would have been good news for the Pacers. Maybe after spending a summer apart, it could wind up being that once again.