Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel spoke to the media on Friday, and both men talked about the Pacers transitioning to a more uptempo playing style next year that would involve using Paul George as a stretch 4. But what would this mean for Roy Hibbert?
Based on what Bird and Vogel said, it sure sounds like Hibbert will have a smaller role moving forward if he returns to Indiana, according to Candace Buckner of the Indy Star. First, from Bird:
“We assume he’s going to be back and if he comes back, we’re probably going to play another style,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “And I can’t guarantee him anything. He’s going to have to earn it.”
Then here’s Vogel:
“We’ll have to see how it all plays out and what the roster ultimately looks like but there’s a possibility that Roy’s role will be diminished, if we’re trying to play faster and trying to play smaller,” Vogel continued. “But a lot of stuff is going to happen this summer, we’ll see how the roster shapes out coming into next season.”
Hibbert remains one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, but he’s a lumbering big man who has never really progressed on the offensive end. He averaged just 10.6 points on 44.6 percent shooing from the field this year, his lowest points per game output since his rookie season. He hasn’t shot over 45 percent from the field in any of the last three years despite being 7’2, and the Pacers played at their slowest pace with him on the floor.
This leaves Hibbert in an interesting spot. He has a player option worth $15.5 million for next year, and if he sees the writing on the wall in Indiana, he may just opt out and hit free agency immediately. Then he would have the option of seeking out a long-term deal or potentially a short-term deal so he could take advantage of the upcoming cap spike.
On the other hand, Hibbert could just pocket that $15.5 million this year and then hit free agency in 2016 when the cap jumps to around $90 million. The big man has his options, but it sure seems like the Pacers are preparing to move forward without him as part of their core:
David Falk, Hibbert's agent, to @CandaceDBuckner on reaction to Pacers' comments today: 'We will respond at the appropriate time.'
— IndyStar Sports (@IndyStarSports) April 17, 2015
Get your popcorn ready.