May 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) reacts from the bench during the second half in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

What It Means if the Pacers Are Shopping Roy Hibbert

According to a report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, the Pacers are ¨quietly¨ shopping Roy Hibbert. Deveney cites several front-office sources, and the general takeaway is that Larry Bird is open to the idea, but perhaps not eagerly, and asking around.

“They’re open to making major changes, if they’re there,” one general manager told Sporting News. “I think they’d be disappointed to see that same core group back intact, so it is a matter of, how drastic can the changes they make be? Moving Hibbert for multiple pieces would be a pretty drastic change, but they’re asking.”

One source noted the obvious, which is that star small forward Paul George is untouchable in any deal with the Pacers, and added that power forward David West was all but off the table, too. He added that Indiana’s preference would be to send Hibbert to the Western Conference

This writing was on the wall when, last week, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that Bird was asking about Goran Dragic. It doesn´t take long — and we did just this — to look down the Pacers roster and figure out which assets might get Phoenix to field that phone call. Take David West out of the equation, note that Phoenix reportedly doesn´t want Lance Stephenson, and the big fella is all else there really is to talk about.

None of this really means anything will happen. Teams talk about players all the time — it´s what the summer is for — and most talks lead nowhere. But it seems clear that Bird is open to any move he thinks can improve the team and that he is gauging the market for, literally, his biggest player.

I understand why he would be curious.

Honestly, what is the market for Roy Hibbert? I have no idea and, really, who could know?

The 7´2¨ hulk of a human was the runaway favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year until a February swoon — for him and his team — made him look more like a liability than a titan. Then came the playoffs, when he repeatedly played games without scoring a point or grabbing a rebound.

There now have to be some teams that simply want no part of Hibbert, a guy who is owed roughly $30 million over the next seasons (presuming he doesn´t use his player option to opt out of the final year of his contract next summer).

If the salary cap hit isn´t enough to scare GMs away, there are still the stylistic issues. Any team playing Hibbert for 30 minutes per game will have a tough time getting an effective transition game going. He can neither keep up nor turn rebounds into quick outlets.

On the other end of the court, a team with Hibbert can forget some defensive schemes. Indiana has created the best defense in recent memory using Hibbert as an anchor to protect the rim behind its two long, strong, athletic wings. This can clearly be replicated elsewhere, though not having Paul George will complicate matters for another coach. But while that will be appealing to some, other coaches want big men who are comfortable playing out to the three-point line — or beyond — while trapping, ïcing,¨ or blitzing ballhandlers in the pick and roll. Any team with Hibbert simply cannot use these strategies on a team-wide basis.

There is no doubt that most executives throughout the league realize that Hibbert can be a tremendous asset on the court. And there are definitely plenty who will want him on their roster even at the high price of more than $14 million per season. But anyone who trades for Hibbert is putting themselves into a box somewhat; they are limiting flexibility in their style of play, and they need to make sure that they employ a coach who is equipped and eager to scheme, at least somewhat, around Hibbert´s strengths while masking his limitations.

Frank Vogel faced this very conundrum when the big man his defense is predicated on fell apart against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. And his belief that the team had to play a certain way nearly cost Indiana the series — and, if you like media rumors, it may have nearly cost Vogel his job.

That is the flipside to all this: Vogel´s greatest triumph as a coach has been creating a great — in the real sense of the word — defense. Under his watch, Hibbert became the most imposing defender in the NBA, and we were talking about the Pacers as being in the conversation with the best defenses of all time.

There are indeed players who, if Indiana traded Roy, could step in and fill the same role well. Ian Mahinmi, for instance, protected the rim just as effectively for much of the second half of last season (in terms of limiting the opposition´s restricted area shooting percentage, albeit usually against second-unit competition).

Still, those players aren´t abundantly available, none of them are 7´2¨ with years of built-up chemistry and timing playing behind these wings, and do you really think a team that plays Mahinmi for 30 minutes a night can make the NBA Finals?

Vogel has a keen defensive mind and could likely pivot stylistically if his rim protector was taken away. But you wonder to what degree he would end looking like Buddy Ryan in his first few years coaching the Eagles, stuck using a system that the league had adjusted to and trying to do it without the ideal personnel he once had.

All of Vogel and Hibbert´s success has coincided. Perhaps they will both thrive seperately, but who knows? If Vogel can no longer power the Pacers to play the best defense in the league, what is Indiana left with? His touch coaching offensive basketball in the NBA has been largely — let´s be kind and say — unsuccessful. Maybe that, too, has been tied to the limitations of playing Hibbert in the middle along with so many other large players. But maybe he just won´t ever coach a formidable offense.

So if you move Hibbert and you lose the defense and Vogel can´t command a better offense then what exactly do you have? Do you have a team that can even be counted on to beat the Raptors or the Wizards?

It´s impossible to know.

I´m certainly curious to know — and it seems that Larry Bird might be as well.

Ultimately, removing the big man and his big contract from Indiana while building a future around two sub-25-year-old wonder-wings, in George and Stephenson, might be the best course forward for the Pacers. If they chose to do that, however, they are definitely steppping into the unknown.

Tags: Indiana Pacers Roy Hibbert

  • poot

    GRANGER SUCKS, burn in hell danny, now my least favorite Pacer ever, I hope you suffer the horrible end t your career that you deserve.

    shame be upon that disgusting excuse of a man!

    • Jack Wright

      I think I usually agree with you but not in this case. I don’t blame him at all after we got rid of him last year. There was no reason to trade him.. Only could’ve made us worse. And it did. If anything, screw the Pacers.

      • Jack Wright

        Lance is about to be gone. hahaha It’s questionable whether the Pacers even make the playoffs next year. I’ve never seen a team string so many bad decisions together within a 6 month timeframe

        • poot

          WHY would he join the arch nemesis? granted, he would have done NOTHING for the Pacers (and will likely do NOTHING for the Heat)
          but still, sign with any other team. ANY other team. signing with the Heat is spitting in the face of the fans who cheered you on for years. “i’m taking my talents to south beach, uh hyuk…” seriously, someone would have offered him more than 2yr/$4m, all he can say as reasoning is that he is “ring chasing” in which case he will have to step on the Pacers to do so.

          Granger was the only saving grace for the most disgusting period in Pacers history, 2004-2010. At least the Artest/oneal/jackson/tinlsey group had Talent. that 04-10 run was horrible, and made Granger a star. and this is how he thanks the few fans who stuck with him through that. unacceptable. I will laugh when this is the Heat’s lineup next year:

          C: Monroe / Haywood
          PF: McRoberts / Bennett
          SF: Deng / Granger
          SG: Wade / Morrow
          PG: Napier / Cole

          • Earl Malmsteen

            He thanked the fans by playing his ass off for bad teams while he was under contract with the Pacers. He doesn’t owe anything to you or anyone else. Good on him for getting paid.

          • poot

            NO. he could have been paid MORE. he is now on a RAY ALLEN level of venomous SCUM

          • Jack Wright

            We had the best roster / most well put together team last year before we traded Granger and signed Bynum. We didn’t need to touch the roster.. We weren’t going to get any better because we already were flat out awesome. There is no such thing as a freeroll when the reality is that mid-season trades / signings can affect the team in ways that we aren’t actually able to define. Hibbert is a guy that thrives on confidence. (Note that down the stretch of the season, his good performances almost always came when he made his first shot attempt, and vice versa.) Just having Bynum on the bench probably had an effect on Roy, and I think it’s very likely that the Bynum signing had an influence on the unraveling of Roy’s confidence.

            Regarding Granger, it didn’t matter if he was useless or not. We had guys like Copeland and Rasaul Butler in place ready to take his minutes if Danny wasn’t producing. Our lineup was solid gold, and we fucked it up by making unnecessary changes that, again, could only cause harm to the team. I literally said this exact thing to the pro-trade Granger folks before the season, and then I watched everything play out exactly as I had said.

            And, poot, you’re right.. Granger was our one shining light during some really gross years. How do you think it made him feel when, during the season in which it looked like our championship potential was very real and higher than perhaps anybody else’s, we kick him out of town (& for effing EVAN TURNER). After all the great years Granger gave us, he’s gets traded NOW??? When we’re rolling over every team we play, regardless of how Granger is playing? During what should’ve been our championship season??? I would’ve said good effing riddance Indiana, too.

          • poot

            yeah you’re right, i guess i’m just more of a Pacers fan than I ever was a Granger fan, for better or worse.

            and i agree with you 100%, there was no reason to mess with the chemistry. Turner was a huge gamble which did not pay off. but did you really know he would be THAT bad? i mean he could dribble and stuff, but did nothing with it…

            I’ll miss Lance, but he really had ONE good season, and even that was up and down at times. he was much better in the playoffs two years ago, and that was when he would disappear for huge stretches (i think he didnt even show up until like game 6 of the second round) i think the offer was not a low-ball, Pacers basically could not do anything more without waiving/stretching other players. i doubt anyone offers him $44m. he’s really not worth that much, and while there is an argument to be made about “making up for years earning <$1m" he basically only had one season where he deserved more than that.

            the shitty thing will be that the starting SG position will now be so weak. CJ Miles can do something, and the Hill/Watson backcourt has proven to be effective at times, but Lance's length and strength on D will be sorely missed. his ability to spark runs is huge, but symptomatic of a bigger problem…

            you're right about firing Vogel, though I say demote him. so many better options for a HC out there. the biggest problem on the team is that when they have a play that works, they randomly stop going to it, instead of abusing their advantages, like the championship teams do. a better HC, and maybe a better PG would help with this…. i dont see this changing so i am banking my hopes on Paul George adding something huge to his game this year: leadership.

            overall, i am just mad that Danny said "effing good riddance Indiana" because even though i feel like i have been abused by this team too, i will not turn my back to them and i will NEVER EVER EVER root for the heat. is it unfair of me to say that I hope Lebron leaves and they have a shitty Wade-led non-playoff team this year? i think not. i hope that Danny regrets that decision, the Clips wanted him back and tons of teams would have rolled the dice on him for more than the BAE

          • Jack Wright

            I see Lance as our best playmaker (and is it even close?) and the creator of the easiest shots. I think his production can and should be higher, though, and I blame that on Vogel. If I were in charge, I’d have the Lance + D-West pick ‘n roll as our #1 play option. We’d go to it early and often because good luck trying to stop it on a consistent basis. That’s seriously a sick tandem that has gone highly under-utilized under Vogel. No more giving the ball to Roy in the high post. No more George Hill dribbling out the shot clock before making an unproductive pass. No more contested shot attempts right before the shot clock expires. Lance would be my point guard.. He’d set his teammates up for good shots.. He’d make even more plays than we’re used to seeing, simply because he’d have the ball more and have more control of the offense. He has a unique skill set that Hill lacks — The blame shouldn’t be on Hill for being a bad point guard.. It should be on Vogel for miss-using his players talents. And think of the benefits this simple change would have on his teammates. George Hill would become a solid knock-down shooter at his natural position, SG.. Paul George’s offensive efficiency would increase. Basically, more points would be put on the board.

            Lance’s usage rate would be much higher than the inexcusably low .20 last season under Vogel. If you’re #1 playmaker has that low of a usage rate, you know you’re doing something wrong. People complain about Lance “pounding” the ball too much. To a great extent that is a load of bullcrap. He’s a playmaker. He makes good things happen. You want the ball in those types of players’ hands a lot. Besides, point guards do tend to dribble a lot. Think of Tony Parker. Steve Nash. You make Lance the point guard and suddenly he’s not “pounding the ball”… he’s being a point guard. He’s making plays. Making things happen. He’s incredible at simply making good things happen…… Make sure he has the ball more! Honestly I think Lance has one of the most unique set of abilities in the league, and I think it would be an incredible shame to see him go somewhere else because we can’t fork over a couple more mil.

          • poot

            yeah but Lance is also the master of pushing 1 on 4 transition plays and ending up with nothing, and is pretty damn good at dribbling aimlessly then losing the ball.
            i agree, he MAKES plays, but he also blows plays all on his own. not being on the same page as your teammates is one thing, but taking everything upon yourself and coming up with some sportscenter bottom 10 plays, shaqtin a fool plays, this is what i worry about with increasing Lance’s usage.

            but yeah the point comes down to Vogel’s coaching… i have been pushing the same advice for 3 years now, and i would love for someone on the Pacers staff to get with this:

            you have a team of intelligent players, but no real point guard.
            sounds a lot like the Lakers/Bulls (unless you think Fisher, Shaw, Paxton, Harper and the like were the kind of point guards that would make the Pacers a better team)
            PG in the Kobe/Jordan mold, obviously not at that level, but as close as you can get
            West as the shooting/passing big man,
            Hibbert as the post clean up guy
            and every guy can defend at the highest level

            all you need now is another wing next to PG who can fill it up from 3.
            and there you go, the lack of playmaking by Hill completely negated, no need for Lance, and you play to the team’s strenghts…

            but this is why i get pissed at Vogel too… we should have made Shaw the HC

          • poot

            This is an awesome post, and I bet the Heat arent even this good (I made this before Cavs cleared up cap space trading Zeller allowing them to sign Lebron outright) now they are going to be even worse! LOL good luck making the playoffs Heat!!!

            RIP heat “fans” 2010-2014

        • Earl Malmsteen

          I’m really not sure what FO decisions were all that bad. The Pacers pretty much organically imploded from February on. The same players who played great early in the year stunk late–not sure how you pin that on the front office. Taking a freeroll on Bynum or trading a non-productive Granger for a non-productive Turner were not the downfall of the Pacers. If you think that’s what turns your center from an all-star into shooting 30% from the field or turns Paul George from the third-best player in the league into a bad version of Rudy Gay, you are just scapegoating the front office for no reason.

          In retrospect the only bad FO move was the Scola trade. Granger/Turner was a wash and Bynum was a freeroll. Unless Bynum pissed in everyone’s Gatorade or something.

          • Jack Wright

            Trading Granger was a 100% bad decision. Signing Bynum was a 100% bad decision. Not firing Vogel after the season was a bad decision, but you all will have to wait and see on that. And lowballing Lance with a pathetic offer was the next bad decision. You all can wait and see on that one, too. We are a completely, completely different team without Lance. In a bad way.

          • Joe Betz

            The Scola trade ended 40/60 for the Pacers. The trade was fine when considering the systems for both teams. The Suns run and gun, so Green was going to have several 2-5 3s hit games + some monster slams, and Plumlee’s athleticism would keep him in double-double range most nights when he didn’t get in foul trouble. The pick didn’t hurt because it was so late, and it saved the Pacers from paying the ~1million minimum to first round picks in that area, which is huge considering how tight the Pacers will be to the tax once all dominoes fall. The Pacers needed a high bball IQ 4 who could shoot, and he was a clear upgrade over HANDS-BRO, YOUR HANDS-BRO. The Suns “won” the trade, but only because Scola went through too many shooting slumps. His season represented the Pacers season perfectly–killer in the first 30 games, average every game after.

            The Granger trade was not a wash. It ruined chemistry and shortened floor spacing. Granger knew his major minute days were done (see his new contract in Miami), so why not allow him to continue to heal, continue to practice, and trot him out for 15 minutes a night, hoping for a few threes and maybe his aggressiveness getting him to the line? I would have preferred that over watching Evan Turner forget how to play basketball, I mean forget how to put gas in his car, I mean…you know what I mean.

          • Earl Malmsteen

            Granger shot 33% from 3 and was hurt most of the rest of the year. So essentially you could bench Turner and get the same team as they had with Granger. Which is exactly what they did when they got waxed by Miami in the ECF, so it really didn’t have a material effect. Like I said, what had a much much bigger effect was an organic collapse by the starters. Not sure how this is even controversial. Pinning the team’s collapse on the Granger trade is absurd when the worst signs didn’t have Turner on the court and wouldn’t have had Granger on the court either.

          • Joe Betz

            Not pinning the collapse on the trade, just saying that the Granger trade was the real loser, not the Scola for prospect, late 1st rounder, and Gerald Green’s basketball IQ. I believe losing Granger’s voice hurt the locker room, though, so I think it was part of that collapse. Bird gave up on Granger too soon and rolled the dice…off the table.

        • poot

          yeah Jack, surprised by the pessimism. seems like there are two schools of thought on this one:
          1) ESPN / media / small-minded-sell-copies view:
          The Pacers were never that good last season at all, even at 33-7
          -feasted on an easy schedule to start the season
          -won in San Antonio because Spurs didnt care to compete in early season games
          -won 4 games against the Heat because Heat ended up showing that they actually suck
          -sucked against shitty teams in playoffs

          2) anyone with a brain of their own
          The Pacers were INCREDIBLE to start last year and hit a bump of inconsistancy when Hill/Watson went down with injuries
          -of their first 33 wins, 17 came against playoff teams. 19-6 to start against playoff teams…
          -SA had a double digit lead and went on to win 60 games… didnt care about beating the #1 ranked team at home?
          -well its true, the Heat do suck
          -sucked bad enough to win two elimination games in round 1 and make short work of a Wiz team playing its best ball of the season by far.

          its so funny reading all these people who are like “oh yeah next year #1 is heat (even though we don’t know ANY players that will be on the team besides mcBob/Stranger/Cole/Nappier), #2 is bulls (even though Rose has yet to prove he’s not the next Penny, and the rest of the team… lol see Wiz series), #3 is either Hornets or Wizards, #5 probably like Raptors or Hawks or Nets or Cavs or something, then MAYBE Pacers make the playoffs and get swept in round 1 cause PG cant handle attention and Hibbert is a stiff and Hill is the worst point guard in the league.”

          so funny i forgot to laugh… UNDER THE RADAR, just the way we like it.

    • Earl Malmsteen

      jeeeeez man. go outside or something.

  • Saul O. Tarsus

    Get rid of Hibbert, keep Lance.

  • Joe Betz

    Trading Granger was a bad move. Turner could never spread the floor, so it was preposterous to trade for him, really, though he did win a regular season game against the Heat for us. Now, Granger wants to spite his former bosses, and it makes sense in several ways.

    However, concerning this trade discussion, no team wants Hibbert. He limits what teams might want to do too much. Still, I would love to see a Hibbert – Hill to Boston for Rondo – Jeff Green. Assuming Lance is gone, you have a starting five of Rondo, George, Green, West, and Mahinmi/ Allen, with Watson, Miles, Hill, Copeland and Mahinmi/ Allen off the bench. I think it would be enough to get to the Finals. Killer backcourt, great 3pt shooting off the bench, and one player with potential to break out (Hill). This will never happen.

    • poot

      continuity is worth more than a “nice system” or “star players”… unless you buy into that whole Miami thing. I’d rather do it the Spurs way-
      Duncan – 17 yrs
      Parker – 13 yrs
      Ginobili – 12 yrs
      Boner – 10 yrs
      Splitter – 4 yrs
      Green – 4 yrs
      Leonard – 3 yrs
      Mills – 3 yrs
      Diaw – 2.5 yrs