MATT CALKINS: Blazers are all in with Hibbert

Commentary: Matt Calkins




If you were on a bike, and you were planning on jumping that bike over, say, the Grand Canyon, you’d likely be asked questions such as:

“Are you freaking nuts?”

Or “just how often were you dropped on your head?”

Or “what? … Is Sudoku not challenging enough?”

What you would most assuredly not hear is this: “What’s Plan B if this doesn’t work out?”

Anything other than Plan A, of course, would result in a Mr. Potato Head of a corpse. The thing is, the truly audacious don’t think in terms of Plan B’s — they just take the leap and hope there’s not a wind gust.

So Blazers fans shouldn’t fret about general manager Neil Olshey not having a backup plan should the team fail to sign Roy Hibbert.

They should just appreciate the fact that he’s bold — a trait that, for this organization, is beautiful.

As soon as free agency began Saturday, Olshey met with Hibbert and his representatives and reportedly offered the All-Star center a 4-year, $58 million deal. However, since Hibbert is a restricted free agent, the Pacers have a right to match any other team’s proposal and retain the 25-year-old for themselves.

But the Blazers can’t officially make an offer until the free-agency moratorium period ends on July 11, and since all of their salary cap money is committed to the potential signing of Hibbert, they can’t try and woo anybody else.

In other words, as a young Muhammad Ali might have put it: If the Pacers match the deal, pain Portland will feel.

But that’s what is so charming about this gamble. Olshey shoved in his chips well before the flop and has Indiana trying to read his tell.

It leaves the Pacers wondering: is Hibbert really worth a max contract?

Olshey would say yes, and that’s why he’s not just bold, but bold with all caps.

Hibbert hasn’t proven himself to be a max player yet.But he has flashed enough seasoning to make him one of Olshey’s new favorite stocks. And if you want to take a small-market franchise from a lottery team to a contender, you have to make a risky investment or two.

Will it work out? Can’t say. But this is Olshey’s way of “going for it.” Sign a big-time center. Re-sign Nic Batum afterward. Hope that those young pieces blossom alongside Damian Lillard and blend with LaMarcus Aldridge, and then … who knows?

Olshey said earlier that he didn’t come all the way from Los Angeles just to be OK, which is the best Portland has been in more than a decade.

And you don’t upgrade from OK without laying down a big bet or two so that you have a chance to beat the house.

Anytime you’re building a team, no matter how much information or insight you have, it takes a bit of good fortune to achieve success. But they say the bold is who fortune most favors.

Matt Calkins cover the Trail Blazers for The Columbian. He can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or