Loss of Hibbert would be tough for Pacers fans to stomach

July 2, 2012
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The Indiana Pacers find themselves in a tough predicament.

At a press conference last Wednesday, new president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh called re-signing 25-year-old center Roy Hibbert “a top priority.”

Over the weekend, the Portland Trailblazers offered Hibbert a max four-year $58 million contract.

While the small-market Pacers have been extra thrifty in recent years to get the franchise on better financial footing, Hibbert will be a tough player to let go.

The Pacers also have to be concerned with re-signing George Hill and prospecting for free agents that can help take the team to the next level.

Not only has Hibbert turned into an all-star on the court, he’s also turned into a fan favorite who has been as active as any Pacer in this community off the court.

Hibbert’s work for the Children’s Wish Fund and other charitable organizations in this town is well-known.

Two years ago, Hibbert founded Area 55. He bought 55 season tickets and hand-picked the 55 loudest Pacers fans to place in the section inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Hibbert regularly talks to the crowd in Area 55, throws them private parties and has even been known to take them to the movies. It’s difficult to put a price tag on that type of personality and presence in the community.

Hibbert, a Georgetown alum, is no small reason for the Pacers resurgence, and may be the biggest reason why the local community has started to re-embrace the team.

Because Hibbert is a restricted free agent, the Pacers can match any offer to keep him. When Larry Bird was in charge, Pacers Coach Frank Vogel was confident that was going to happen.

“Of course this isn't going to be [Hibbert’s] last time in Indy, he’s not going anywhere,” Vogel said at one of Hibbert’s charity events last month.

“I love our team so much, there’s such a great positive chemistry and any time you see any of those guys, it just lights up,” Vogel added. “We’re going to get every single one of them (free agents) back. The Pacers are going to shoot for the moon.”

Shooting for the moon can cost a lot of money, and it’s not clear now whether team owner Herb Simon and the new management staff has the stomach for such spending.

Pacers fans are about to find out how high a “top priority” is under Walsh. If it turns out not to be high enough to retain Hibbert, the Pacers might find fan support is deflated significantly next season.
 

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  • Act
    Hibbert a nice guy? What a bunch of bunk. I was on a flight to NYC last year, and he was too cool to talk To a lady in line while waiting for his bags. She was not pushy or anything, just casual chit chat. Obviously he was too big a star to be bothered. His good press is all manufactured by his handlers. Just like all the others, from first hand experience.
  • Roy Hibbert
    The Pacers will sign Roy. What choice do they have? They can't go into the season with Miles Plumlee as the #1 center.
  • Always interesting to read stories like Todds. Even more interesting to hear Hibberts side of the story. I can't imagine Roy may be a little tired and not ready to be "on" after a long flight and he is waiting for his luggage. I am not sure about him, but there are times you don't want to be bothered. I agree that Roy is important to sign, but we have seen what happens when you tie up a lot of money in one player and then they do not perform.
  • We will see.
    You could see this coming...centers are too hard to come by, especially ones who get better every year, work hard and are good teammates...someone was going to offer a max deal and call the Pacer's on how serious they are about keeping him. So now we find out if they have the will to match the Blazers' deal...and then still pay for George Hill who supposedly wants 8-9 million. My guess is there is not money for both of them, but we will see (and I am guessing Hill gets the short straw if that is true). By the way, sorry Todd... Roy is a good guy...your one time observation is simply that...it is not a history. People make assumptions without knowing about immediate circumstances or other background or personal situations that may be pertinent. I hope the Pacers sign Roy...I like George Hill as a player and want to keep him too, but doubt he is the answer as full time point guard, so if I have to let one guy go, local ties or not, George is the one. Maybe it wasn't Larry's back and shoulder that caused him to leave after all...
  • #55
    Todd, I think you are being a little hard on the young man. He has done a lot more than most this early in his career - you can't characterize a guy by one experience. No one is perfect, maybe he was having a bad day. I sat across from A. Davis once on a flight and he was so uncomfortable due to his height that he barely said a word and I believe Antonio is a pretty good guy. Hibbert needs to be signed for a lot of reasons but mostly that this team would digress without him and that would be unacceptable. We also need to keep Hill. Granger seems like the odd man out in the "new Pacers" - still shoots too much. He needs to be traded to make room for a maturing Paul George. Just my opinion.

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