Rumors swirled about the Indiana Pacers possibly dealing Roy Hibbert even before Paul George's expected season-ending injury. The speculation hasn't stopped.
Two reports popped over the weekend involving trade talk centered on the 7-foot-2 All-Star. Your mileage may vary as to whether either makes sense for the other side.
Reason for dealing Hibbert is two-fold. There were the erratic final weeks of the regular season and playoffs where he would go for 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks one night and zero-and-zero the next. Also, without George, Indiana is no longer a realistic NBA title contender. That makes dealing expensive pieces --Hibbert is owed over $30 million combined during the next two seasons - for future assets a possibility.
First up, the Phoenix Suns and Goran Dragic. The point guard is overseas preparing to play with the Slovenian national team in the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Apparently, during an interview, the topic of the electric playmaker's future with the Suns came up. The translation followed by analysis from ProBasketballTalk's Brett Pollakoff:
Among other things, the Phoenix for Dragic offered Roy Hibbert and Chris Copeland . “And some money,” says Dragic, who he’s interest in Indiana, a transfer from probably nothing will : “According to my information, in Phoenix say they will not accept offer. “
As always, we recommend using extreme caution when taking into consideration reports from foreign websites that were translated into English. And of course, Hibbert’s contract is almost double that of Dragic’s, so other pieces would have needed to be included for a deal like this to take place.
But the short answer as to why Phoenix said no if in fact this was actually discussed is that Dragic is a better player, on a better contract.
The Suns do have a glut of point guards assuming they manage to keep restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe. There's a reasonable chance Phoenix makes a trade before the season starts, but one involving Bledsoe or first round pick Tyler Ennis rather than Dragic, in theory at least.
At least from a player standpoint, a Hibbert-Dragic swap makes at least some sense for both sides. Sending Hibbert to Detroit, home of hulking center Andre Drummond does not.
The Pacers reportedly tried talking up the Pistons in a deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Beyond the financial hurdles with Detroit over a long-term deal, the 6-foot-10 Monroe would be better off playing elsewhere due to his interior game being incompatible with Drummond and forward Josh Smith.
Yet compared to Hibbert, who like Drummond does his best work playing within two-feet of the rim, Monroe in the Pistons frontcourt fits like peanut butter and jelly. Detroit needs a floor spacer rather than another paint clogger.
Anyway, the main takeaway is that if the reports are accurate - we can at least assume Dragic knows what's up - Indiana is indeed testing the market. Seeing as old school centers are a rarity in this open-court NBA era, finding a fit for Hibbert while receiving appropriate compensation will be challenging.