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Blazers make 4-year max offer to Pacers RFA C Roy Hibbert

By Ben Golliver | Blogger
The Blazers reportedly have their sights set on Roy Hibbert. (Getty Images)

A gigantic offer to a gigantic man.

The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly made a max contract offer to Indiana Pacers restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert on hours after the 2012 NBA free agency period opened on July 1, according to SI.com.

Source: Portland GM Neil Olshey & team [president] Larry Miller visited restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert tonight in DC, offered max deal.

Indiana did not offer a max deal, and Hibbert is now leaning to Blazers unless Pacers match. One other unnamed team offered max.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms the offer and reports that it will be worth $58 million over four years.

The NBA is in a moratorium until July 11 so no official offer sheets can be signed until then. The Blazers can offer Hibbert a 4-year deal; the Pacers can offer a fifth year. If an offer sheet is eventually agreed to and officially signed, the Pacers will have three days to match the offer.

Hibbert, 25, just completed his fourth season with the Pacers, posting career-high averages of 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He played in 65 of Indiana's 66 games last season and has missed just three combined games over the last three seasons. His durability, size, paint presence, shot-block abilities and youth all combine to make him a very highly-desired commodity. He ranked No. 5 overall on the CBSSports.com Top-40 free agents list and he was the top-ranked center.

The Pacers were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs after finishing with the NBA's fifth-best record in 2011-12. As long as owner Herb Simon is cool with shelling out the dough, the Pacers are well-positioned to re-sign Hibbert. Indiana is currently well under the salary cap and has a rotation that includes three key players (Paul George, Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough) who are still on rookie deals. Prior to the free agency period, the consensus was that the Pacers would match any offers made to Hibbert.

The Blazers are looking to address a gigantic hole in the middle left by injuries to 2007 No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden, the trade of veteran Marcus Camby at the 2012 deadline and the aging of Joel Przybilla, who wasn't particularly effective last season. Portland drafted Illinois sophomore center Meyers Leonard with the No. 11 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, but he's not seen as ready to play full-time starters minutes. The Blazers often use small-ball lineups, sliding All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to the five position, but he's expressed a desire to remain at the four whenever possible.

Hibbert is a traditional center in a league that no longer has too many of them. He's rare enough that it makes sense for a team like the Blazers -- with cap space and a roster hole -- the Blazers to treat him as a No. 1 priority and target in free agency. It also makes all the sense in the world for a new-look Pacers front office -- led by president Donnie Walsh and GM Kevin Pritchard -- to do what it takes to keep him in Indiana for the foreseeable future.

 
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