When a team goes through a slide like the Indiana Pacers did in the second-half of this season, it only makes sense that rumors will begin flying about possible changes.
After last night’s season ending loss to the Miami Heat, Paul George didn’t sound overly enthusiastic about bringing back shooting guard Lance Stephenson, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. But there may be someone else on the move this off-season.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, there are some rumblings that the Pacers and Roy Hibbert may be looking for a split 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.
Hibbert’s slide has been well-documented in basketball circles as his play dropped significantly after being named an All-Star. Numerous playoff games in which he failed to score a point or grab a rebound only magnified his struggles.
That being said, Hibbert is only 27 years old, and remains one of the best defensive big men in the NBA. Perhaps a fresh start is all he needs to get back to where he was.
A problem, however, could be Hibbert’s contract which pays him $15 million per year, and Hibbert can opt-out after next season. Some teams will be unwilling to trade for Hibbert without assurances that he will remain with the team for more than a season.
Maybe the Lakers could target the center, perhaps in a sign-and-trade involving Pau Gasol. The Lakers are going to try and focus on defense, and get younger. Hibbert in the back line of the defense would immediately improve the Lakers abysmal defense from a year ago.
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