How much is Roy Hibbert Worth to Rip City?
In the opening hours of NBA free agency, Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey sat down with Roy Hibbert and offered him a maximum contract to take his talents to the Northwest next season.
As the Indiana Pacers spend the moratorium period mulling over whether or not to match the offer on the table, the question must be asked by fans, media and management alike, is Hibbert worth the max-dollar deal that Portland has offered?
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the most any NBA team can offer a new player in free agency is four years, $58 million dollars, and that’s exactly what the Blazers threw at the Pacers’ center on July 1.
That’s a lot of money for a player whose career numbers are 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
But let’s remember one thing: contracts are made primarily on future projections; not the past.
The Trail Blazers need a big man, and Hibbert is one of the league’s best—he showed it with a couple of big-time performances in the 2012 postseason.
But big-time performances or not, the Blazers don’t need a star at center; they need a player who can impact the defensive end, take the pressure off LaMarcus Aldridge and stay healthy long enough to remain in the lineup for years to come—Hibbert has missed three games over the past three years.
Meyers Leonard is ready to step into the paint in Portland, but is he ready to carry a team as the starting center?
Aldridge is a star power forward in the league, but he lacks the defensive presences that a player of Hibbert’s caliber has.
So the answer becomes, yes; Hibbert is worth the money—to the Blazers.
Not every team in the league is itching for their center of the future the way the Blazers and their fans are. Greg Oden came and went in a five-year stretch that saw him play 82 games and have more knee surgeries than the casual fan is likely to remember.
This team is rebuilding, but a big-time move can make the rebuilding period much easier to handle.
Don’t be taken back by the term “max contract,” either. This isn’t the same bad contract that the Blazers have given away in the past.
The new CBA avoids the six-year, $84 million dollar deals that Zach Randolph received. The five-year, $82 million deal that Brandon Roy was given is also gone.
Four years, $58 million is far more reasonable than what the team has previously offered to max-contract players in the past.
For the Pacers, they have to ask themselves if the money is worth being where they were last year.
The maximum contract puts their future in jeopardy, and if they don’t believe they can compete with the Miami Heat next year as-is, the answer might be no.
For the Blazers, they have to ask themselves if the money is worth getting better right now.
The team has a chance to be very good, very quickly, and if a max contract is what it takes to make that happen, than the answer is yes, Hibbert is worth the money.