Roy Hibbert is an awkward fit in today’s pace-and-space NBA. He doesn’t shoot well near the basket or from distance, he isn’t a particularly gifted passer, and he can’t sprint up and down the court repeatedly. When the Pacers expected to play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals every year, Hibbert’s severe shortcomings on offense were worth putting up with because he was their best chance of beating LeBron James. But the league has changed, and the Pacers are being left behind. Increasingly, it doesn’t seem like Roy Hibbert is part of their future. Via the Indianapolis Star:
“We assume he’s going to be back and if he comes back, we’re probably going to play another style,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “And I can’t guarantee him anything. He’s going to have to earn it.”
Coach Frank Vogel concurred:
When asked if Hibbert would be benched next year as Indiana pushes for a quicker pace, Vogel responded: “Yeah, potentially.
Roy Hibbert holds a player option for the 2015-16 season, but despite being relatively unwanted, he has 15.4 million reasons to opt-in and stick with the Pacers. That should make next year incredibly awkward, especially since Hibbert and his agent aren’t going to take this reduced role lying down:
Unfortunately for Hibbert, this isn’t just a problem with the Pacers. Which team in the league could he realistically fit into? The Memphis Grizzlies? The Utah Jazz? When the Pacers matched the Blazers max contract offer for Hibbert back in 2012, the full extent of the Houston Rocket-ization of the NBA wasn’t understood, but it is now. His defense is good enough that he’ll remain in the league for quite awhile, but likely without a max contract or the key role on a championship-contender. He needed to have been born 20 years earlier.
Photo via Nam Y. Huh/AP