Best Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios and Landing Spots for Roy Hibbert
This is to say it's been a busy, bloodcurdling, stock-razing few months for the two-time All-Star.
Following the most tumultuous season of his professional career, Hibbert is apparently open to being traded from the Pacers, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
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.
To be crystal clear, nothing appears to be in the works right now. To be even more crystal clear, that doesn't mean the status quo won't change.
Falling to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year is hardly something to whimper about. But it's the way Indiana got there that's causing issues.
The Pacers flirted with juggernaut status for most of the season before suffering a complete collapse in the closing months. Change is necessary at this point if they wish to ever truly contend for a title. That change could include dealing Hibbert.
Moving him won't be easy by any means. His market value has never been lower. What the Pacers can get for him is a mystery, but it's bound to be underwhelming. Yet after the year they had, the Pacers owe it to themselves—and Hibbert—to find out what teams are willing to offer.
Portland Trail Blazers
Indiana Pacers Receive: C Meyers Leonard, C Robin Lopez and G C.J. McCollum
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: C Roy Hibbert
Why Indiana Does It: The Pacers get a center who can make an impact right now in Robin Lopez. He can even start.
Lopez isn't exalted for his defense nearly as much as Hibbert, but he brings more offensive flair and competency, and—most importantly—way more rebounding.
Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum, meanwhile, are two former lottery picks who can factor into Indy's future. McCollum stands to be most valuable because he can man the point and serve as an adequate replacement—both offensively and athletically—should the Pacers bid farewell to Lance Stephenson this summer.
Notice the absence of draft picks here. This is something the Pacers must come to terms with, because as Pro Basketball Talk's Brett Pollakoff points out, Hibbert's value isn't sky high after the season he just had:
Forgetting the fact that it doesn’t matter what Hibbert thinks (because the Pacers don’t need his permission to trade him), there are other complications that make dealing him problematic, at least during the offseason.
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.
Waiting to deal Hibbert or not trading him at all are both options, but if the Pacers are looking to retool immediately while creating some financial flexibility, Portland has the combination of pieces to make it worthwhile.
Why Portland Does It: If you remember, it was the Blazers who initially signed Hibbert to that four-year, $58 million max offer sheet in 2012. Perhaps their interest is still alive.
Though Lopez has been sensational, he doesn't have the defensive chops necessary to anchor Portland on his own. Hibbert, for all of his shortcomings, has remained part of the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
After finishing 16th in defensive efficiency this past year, the Blazers can certainly use the rim protection Hibbert provides. In the absence of depth, they'll need star power, and he is defensive star power.
Plus, you know, old free-agency interests die hard.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers Receive: PF Nick Collison, F Perry Jones III, C Kendrick Perkins, C Hasheem Thabeet, Dallas' 2014 first-round pick and Oklahoma City's 2015 first-round pick
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: SF Chris Copeland and C Roy Hibbert
Why Indiana Does It: Believe me, this is a beyond tough sell in Indy. But the fact is, Hibbert isn't going to net much more from anyone else if he's moved.
Nick Collison is an advanced-stats darling. In the feebly constructed Eastern Conference, the Pacers can get away with playing him and David West at the 4 and 5 slots if they need to.
Perry Jones III gives them a nice, lanky prospect to monitor in the second unit, while Hasheem Thabeet's non-guaranteed deal makes him an easy throw-in. Kendrick Perkins won't be registering nightly double-doubles any time soon, but his contract comes off the books next summer, and he's better suited for the Pacers' snail-paced style of play.
Most of the value is in those two first-round selections, because there's no way Oklahoma City relinquishes Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb for Hibbert. Both picks give the Pacers ample opportunity to deepen their core, an imperative part of their imminent future considering how their supporting cast became exceedingly ghastly as the season wore on.
Why Oklahoma City Does It: Taking these types of risks isn't general manager Sam Presti's style, but with the luxury-tax threshold projected to increase by $5.3 million, according to Stein, it's financially feasible for the Thunder to pay another high-profile player.
Pairing Hibbert with Serge Ibaka gives the Thunder two quality rim protectors. It doesn't do anything to increase their offensive pace, but they always have the option of inserting Steven Adams at the 5 if speed is the key.
Chris Copeland isn't meant to be an afterthought here, either. He's a valuable floor-spacing forward who can be used off the bench, not unlike Caron Butler.
To this point, Oklahoma City has been unable to get over the championship hump. Adding Hibbert to a core of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka brings them closer to a title than standing pat will.
Indiana Pacers Receive: PF Channing Frye, C Alex Len, Washington's 2014 first-round pick and Phoenix's 2015 top-10 protected first-round pick
Phoenix Suns Receive: C Roy Hibbert
Why Indiana Does It: Because it really, really, really doesn't like Hibbert.
And because this makes sense.
Alex Len is an unpolished big man who injects much-needed athleticism into the Pacers' frontcourt. The verdict is still out on his ceiling—he was seldom used in Phoenix—but the Pacers do have Ian Mahinmi on the books.
Channing Frye can also play center. That's a luxury the Pacers would have with the bruising West down low. He's equipped to defend most Eastern Conference centers anyway.
Two first-round picks is a fantastic haul for Hibbert at this point. It gives the Pacers a chance to draft two key pieces in the coming summers. Combine that opportunity with Frye's inside-outside offense and Len's undetermined potential, and Indiana has itself a trade worth exploring.
Why Phoenix Does It: General manager Ryan McDonough has the guts to do this.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski cites the Suns as one of the many teams interested in trading for Kevin Love. Acquiring Hibbert won't create a similar splash, but he's more likely to remain in Phoenix than the big-market-thirsty Love.
Trading for Hibbert also won't cost as much. The Suns won't have to worry about dealing Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe. Two first-rounders—one of which should be heavily protected—is more than enough for them to seriously catch Indiana's attention.
Toss Hibbert into the starting lineup, and the Suns go from a fringe-playoff team to a legitimate Western Conference threat with a defensive stud capable of boosting their 13th-ranked protection.
New Orleans Pelicans
Indiana Pacers Receive: C Bismack Biyombo, SG Eric Gordon and New Orleans' 2016 first-round draft pick
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: F Thaddeus Young
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: C Roy Hibbert
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: SF Chris Copeland, SG Gary Neal and Portland's 2014 first-round draft pick
The injury-prone Gordon can act as a high-scoring combo guard. Consider him the lesser of two evils. The Pacers can overpay him for the next two seasons, or overpay Stephenson for the next four to five.
Bismack Biyombo isn't Hibbert, but he's more athletic and a cheap solution at the 5. A combination of he and Mahinmi is more than enough to get the Pacers by.
Why Charlotte Does It: With Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller both in the fold, Biyombo isn't of the utmost importance to Charlotte. Thaddeus Young can be.
Young is someone who can play the 3 or the 4 and is especially valuable to a Bobcats squad that ranked 24th in offensive efficiency last season. A lineup consisting of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Young and Al Jefferson could do some serious damage on both ends of the floor.
Why New Orleans Does It: Anthony Davis needs help.
New Orleans checked in at 25th in defensive efficiency through 2013-14. Placing Hibbert alongside him creates a fearsome rim-policing duo while freeing Davis up to explore more jump shots—three-pointers, specifically—on the offensive end.
These young and promising Pellies also have the option of staggering the pair's minutes if they want to see more of Davis at the 5.
Why Philadelphia Does It: Look, the Sixers aren't winning any championships next season. That doesn't mean they should be treated as tankers again, but it opens the door for a trade like this.
Gary Neal and Copeland are two scorers with unlimited range on expiring contracts. They save the Sixers money after next season and can be retained for future use if Philly likes them.
This early into their development, the Sixers aren't in a position to say "Go away" when one team comes calling with another first-rounder either.
Indiana Pacers Receive: C Anderson Varejao, SG Dion Waiters and Cleveland/Chicago's 2015 first-round draft pick
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: C Roy Hibbert
Why Indiana Does It: Bring this one on.
Anderson Varejao, while injury-prone, can be a double-double machine—which is more than the Pacers can say for Hibbert. He can play the 4 or 5 and, when healthy, gets up and down the floor with more ease than his potential predecessor.
Dion Waiters is a nice insurance policy against Stephenson leaving. Even if he doesn't leave, Waiters can be that offensive spark plug off the bench the Pacers don't currently have. Indy's defense will undoubtedly suffer when he's playing alongside Luis Scola, but this club needs offense and depth more.
If Cleveland sends their 2015 first-rounder—which the Chicago Bulls can swap with their own—it's tough to imagine Pacers president Larry Bird laughing at this one. Varejao and Waiters cost about the same, if not less, than Hibbert, and first-round picks are never anything to joke about.
Why Cleveland Does It: Joel Embiid who?
There's no comparing Embiid to Hibbert. One has the ceiling of Hakeem Olajuwon, the other is offensively clumsily and psychologically fragile. I'll let you figure out who's who for yourself.
But according to Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico, Embiid is basically "out of the running" to be selected by Cleveland at No. 1, courtesy of his mysterious back issues.
"The game plan really wasn't to utilize me as much; I'm just trying to be effective as I can," Hibbert said following Indy's Game 4 loss to Miami, via ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "Would I like a little bit more touches early on? Yeah. But that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes."
His cookie might crumble differently in Cleveland.
Trading for Hibbert—who, if nothing else, has proved durable—allows the Cavs to select Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker without thinking twice. And they still have Kyrie Irving. And cap space in at least one of the next two summers.
Tell me that's not intriguing for a franchise that's been chained to the lottery for the last four years.