Losing Lance Stephenson in free agency was always going to be a big blow for the Indiana Pacers 2014-15 NBA season. Stephenson certainly had his problems in Indiana, but there’s no denying his value on the court. Now that the Pacers have also lost All-Star forward Paul George for the season to a gruesome fracture in his leg, though, Indiana is left searching and scrambling for answers. That could mean Roy Hibbert being on the move.
With the Pacers looking for answers, the organization has been working the phones in the interest of making trades. According to a report from Matt Dery of The New Detroit Sports 105.1, the Pacers have contacted the Detroit Pistons regarding Greg Monroe. Moreover, Goran Dragic told Slovenian press (translated by HoopsHype) that the Pacers also asked the Phoenix Suns about the possibility of dealing for the guard. The name that the Pacers reportedly offered in both cases was Hibbert.
There have been warranted discussions since the George injury about stanchions in FIBA competition, about NBA players participating in international play, and about the effects of this injury on the career of the All-Star from here on out. However, what’s been criminally under-discussed is what the Pacers’ plan should be for this season.
The upcoming season was going to be difficult even with George on the floor. Losing Stephenson left a big hole in Indiana’s stifling perimeter defense and his offense was often a spark for this team. That’s a hole C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey weren’t going to be able to plug. With George out, both the offense and defense of the Pacers is near non-existent.
Regarding Hibbert, the question that the Pacers face is whether or not they should try and remain a non-contending playoff team in the Eastern Conference or whether or not they should tank this season in order to add youth and prospects in next year’s draft to help ensure the best possible team being around George when he can return to the hardwood.
Looking at trading for players like Dragic and Monroe certainly doesn’t signify willingness to tank, but the inclusion of Hibbert in such talks does indicate a possible desire for some sort of change.
Hibbert has been the anchor in the middle of one of the league’s best defenses in Indiana, but his confidence was obviously shaken at the end of last season and he looked to have digressed an enormous amount. Given his end-of-season issues, his injury history, and the questionable longevity of players his size, perhaps the organization has indeed deemed it reasonable to try and part ways with Hibbert.
There’s a chance that these are just feeler talks being sent out by the Pacers to see how reluctant the Pistons and Suns are to part ways with their big-name players. However, given that Hibbert was named specifically in both reports, there does seem to be something going on between Indiana and their center. It may not be for either Monroe or Dragic, but don’t be shocked if Hibbert suits up in something other than blue and gold at some point this season.