We told you it was going to be a crazy offseason, Rip City! With the free agency moratorium period starting at 9:01 pm on the west coast Saturday night, it didn’t take long for the Trail Blazers to make their splash. At 12:41 am, Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick reported that both Larry Miller and Neil Olshey flew to Washington D.C.
to meet with arguably the top center on the free agent market, Indiana’s Roy Hibbert.
The news that the Trail Blazers could potentially have one of the league’s best and youngest centers to play in the post alongside All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge had the city of Portland at a fever pitch. A Facebook status update
relaying Amick’s information posted at 1:14 am received 1,580 likes and 279 comments. Need any more proof that the best fans in the NBA reside in Rip City?
When dealing with restricted free agents, it is assumed that the home team will always match – especially those of the 25-year-old, 7-2, 260 lb. All-Star variety. Optimism heightened when Amick reported shortly after that the Pacers did not make a MAX contract offer
and that Hibbert, himself, was leaning towards signing an offer sheet with the Trail Blazers.
And earlier this morning, the Oregonian’s Joe Freeman reported that the two sides reached a verbal agreement on a contract offer
– the closest they can get to actually signing an offer sheet without doing so.
The team on Sunday reached a verbal agreement on a multi-year contract with restricted free agent Roy Hibbert, widely regarded as the top center prospect on the market.
“We intend to enter into an offer sheet once the moratorium period ends,” Olshey told The Oregonian in an e-mail.
Apparently, Hibbert was “blown away” by Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey
during Portland’s pitch to him, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge.
Hibbert, acquired by the Indiana Pacers (from the Toronto Raptors) on Draft day in 2008, had long expressed his desire to remain in Indiana, with the team that traded for him and helped him develop into an All-Star center. But the 25-year-old was apparently blown away by the presentation made Saturday in Washington, D.C., by the Blazers’ contingent, which included Portland’s new general manager, Neil Olshey.
In his fourth season out of Georgetown
– a school known for producing some of the league’s top all-time centers (Ewing, Mourning, Mutombo) – Hibbert put up career-highs in points (12.8), field-goal percentage (.497), rebounds (8.8), blocks (2.0) and steals (0.5) per game. During his finest season, Hibbert was a major piece to the Pacers’ Eastern Conference Semi-Final puzzle. The postseason saw Hibbert elevate his game to another level as he averaged a double-double (11.7 points and 11.2 rebounds) along with an impressive 3.1 blocks per contest.
The Trail Blazers and Hibbert can’t officially sign an offer sheet until July 11th. And due to Hibbert’s restricted free agent status, the Pacers have three full days to decide whether or not to match. It could be nearly two weeks away from today, on July 14th, until everything has settled. It’s going to be a long wait, but until then, check out some of Big Roy’s highlights.