Probably one more year starting in the Indiana Pacers frontcourt for Hibbert and West

Probably one more year starting in the Indiana Pacers frontcourt for Hibbert and West

Unless something surprising happens this offseason, the Indiana Pacers don’t have to worry about filling in the shoes of Roy Hibbert and David West, both expected to opt into their final year of the contract.

Hibbert has a $15.5 million player option for the 2015-2016 season; West is slated at $12 million. For both players it’s the final year of their deal, just before the huge salary cap rise comes along and maybe even a player strike as well, as they’re likely to exercise their right to opt out of the CBA the league signed with the NBPA after the 2011 holdout.

On paper, the Pacers are happy to keep their core together, hoping that once Paul George is healthy again, they can once more challenge the East and maybe even the NBA title. This season they failed to make the playoffs, but George was out for almost the entire season, and they struggled in finding a competent and consistent replacement to both wing slots after Lance Stephenson left. The Pacers at least enjoyed seeing him completely fail in Charlotte.

But Hibbert has been a huge disappointment this season and in last year’s playoffs. Numbers have never been his strong suit, but with the league going more and more towards non traditional big men, which means guys who can stretch the floor and hang less and less near the rim, guys like Hibbert, who don’t contribute much on offense and sometimes their rim defending abilities become redundant, seem less and less lucrative to keep, especially at the salary he’s getting.

West is a different story. He averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s getting older and playing less minutes, not to mention turning 35 this summer. But he’s still quite useful and more than that. A classic power forward with a good post game and midrange shooting who is no slouch on defense, the Pacers can still make a lot of use of him as he enters the final season of his contract and who knows, maybe his final NBA year.

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