The offensive changes in the NBA make it difficult for big, slow big men without anything to give offensively to find their place. The Indiana Pacers needed time to realize it, but going ahead with that change, it also will take a toll on Roy Hibbert.
What kind of toll? Perhaps a change in his role, which is the public stance the team is taking. But if they can find a reasonable trading partner for the two-time All-Star? They’ll be more than happy to take it, although it’s going to be difficult with his $15.5 million player option which he will not give up, obviously, as something the other side needs to take back.
So how did Hibbert, who is only 28, turn into Kendrick Perkins so quickly? He can still score on offense (10.6 points per game) and is a very good defender. However, with more and more teams stretching the floor with three, four or even five shooters, Hibbert, who isn’t that great of a defensive rebounder with his tendency to lose focus and track of his mark, becomes less and less useful.
The Pacers didn’t sound gentle or anything when talking about how this season ended and where they’ll go next season. Both Larry Bird (We assume he’s going to be back and if he comes back, we’re probably going to play another style, and I can’t guarantee him anything. He’s going to have to earn it.) and Frank Vogel (yeah, potentially he can be benched) didn’t exactly sound like they’re offering the big man too much support. As if they’re hoping he opts out.
His agent, David Falk, simply said he and his client will respond at the appropriate time. Teams are allowed to change the roles of their players, especially if they’re underperforming, but there is a sense of pointing fingers publicly at just one guy. Hibbert’s playoff performance last season still resonates with fans, the staff and the media, making him an easy target.
The Pacers didn’t look good enough to make the playoffs when Lance Stephenson left and Paul George got injured. But they already had the postseason spot in their grasp and let it escape them. Roy Hibbert sometimes providing nothing on offense and struggling to keep up with a faster pace of things, especially later in games, has led the Pacers to think and go through with this change in style, even if it costs them a big man they were building around for so many years.