Blazers make a play for Hibbert

Pacers restricted free agent reportedly offered max deal

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

Updated: July 1, 2012, 7:27 PM

 

Leave home and go big.

A variation on the classic phrase, sure, but given how he is pursuing the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, it appears to be Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey’s mentality right now.

Less than a month removed from leaving the Clippers to take the GM job in Portland, Olshey is making a run at the 25-year-old Hibbert, a restricted free agent who made his first All-Star Game with the Pacers last year.

According to CBS Sports and SI.com, Portland offered Hibbert a 4-year, $58 million max contract, which the big man agreed to in principle. Olshey, who met with Hibbert’s representatives at 9:01 p.m. PDT, Saturday, confirmed that the Blazers plan to enter into an offer sheet with Hibbert once the free agency moratorium period ends July 11.

But it’s hardly a done deal.

Since Hibbert is restricted, Indiana will have 72 hours to match an offer from Portland or any other team — meaning the Blazers may not know if they’ve landed him until July 14.

And for fans seeking a little extra drama with their free-agency period, they’ll be interested to know that the man ultimately deciding whether Hibbert stays or goes is former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, who is now the GM of the Pacers.

Hibbert averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks for Indiana, showing improvement in all three statistical categories. He also was an integral factor in leading the Pacers past Orlando in the first round of the playoffs and challenging Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Additionally, Hibbert would fill the most conspicuous hole in the Blazers roster, as the team is currently without an established center — a position that has easily been the franchise’s most plagued.

As for Pritchard, he was fired by the Blazers on draft day in 2010 (although owner Paul Allen contends that Pritchard asked to be let go). In June, Pritchard was promoted to GM of the Pacers after serving as director of player personnel for nearly a year.