The NBA Draft went Rip City’s way, and if everything goes according to plan, it’s looking as though the free agency period will follow suit.
According to The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, the Portland Trail Blazers have reached a verbal agreement with one of this off-season’s hottest targets, center Roy Hibbert, for a four-year/$58 million max contract.
Addressing their biggest need going into the season, Hibbert made the Eastern Conference All-Star team last year and posted averages of 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and two blocks per game in his 2011-2012 campaign with the Indiana Pacers.
“We intend to enter into an offer sheet once the moratorium period ends,” GM Neil Olshey told The Oregonian in an e-mail.
The Pacers still reserve the right to match Portland’s offer sheet, and very well may do so, but an aggressive move so early into the off-season shows good things to come for Portland.
Hibbert would be a perfect fit with the Blazers.
Making the All-Star game off of solely rebounding and shot blocking, with a taste of low-post scoring, the market’s top center would be the ideal big man to put alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, who also made the All-Star team last season.
If the Indiana Pacers neglect to match the Blazers’ max contract offer to their young center, Portland will have formed a power-packed front-court nucleus of Aldridge, Hibbert, and restricted free agent, Nicolas Batum (who is the No. 1 priority on the Blazers’ off-season list), to play off of their stud rookie, Damian Lillard, and wing sharp-shooter, Wesley Matthews.
Now that’s a team that’s poised to get back into the Playoffs.
Kristian Winfield is a Staff Writer for Rip City Project. He is also Lead Editor for Scarlet & Game. You can follow him on Twitter here.