Size matters in the NBA. Roy Hibbert is listed at 7'2". When adding those two sentences together, you begin to arrive at the conclusion that Hibbert, a restricted free agent, could be one of the most sought-after commodities this summer. He entered the league as a serviceable project with what appeared to be a limited ceiling, but coming off his first All-Star appearance this year, Hibbert's future now appears brighter than most who play his position.
Last season Hibbert averaged 12.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 3.7 FTAPG, 29.8 MPG, and shot 49.7% from the floor. In a lockout-shortened, physically-excruciating season, all were career bests. He's a player who should only get better over the next few years of his career, and whoever signs him will have a rebounding advantage almost every night that he suits up.
Depending on how you look at it, the Pacers are in an enviable position with loads of cap space heading into the offseason. It's a roster compiled of hard-working, high-intensity guys, but with no go-to crunch-time scorer their team that has no realistic shot at winning a championship without making a significant upgrade to their roster. They've been patient for years, but with one of their most prized projects hitting restricted free agency, a slew of teams will be lined up to make Roy Hibbert significant contract offers. As a small market organization that's forced to make shrewd financial decisions when it comes to paying players big money, the Pacers will have a difficult decision to make regarding whether they keep Hibbert on board, or choose to set him free.
Here are the figures a few centers made in the first year of their deals signed this past offseason: DeAndre Jordan ($10MM), Marc Gasol ($12.9MM), Tyson Chandler ($13.1MM), and Nene ($13MM). Hibbert should stand to make somewhere between $10-14MM.
While almost every team in the NBA could use a center who's above average on both ends of the floor, improving each and every season, the Celtics and Rockets are two teams who not only have the need, but the cap space to make a legitimate offer. Both have rebouding issues, and both struggle getting easy baskets with interior play in the post. Along with becoming a regular participant at All-Star weekend over the next few years, Hibbert has the physical intangibles to be an efficient difference-maker on a title contender. It's only a matter of where he ends up next season that could determine the impact Roy Hibbert has throughout his career.