Page last updated on Mon Oct 24 19:38:07 EDT 2016
Tue, 12 Jun 2012 03:50 AM EDT

Roy Hibbert wants to keep playing basketball in Indiana, and the Pacers intend to make their All-Star center satisfied.

It’ll just come down to dollars and sense. Basketball spreads

“Of course this won’t be his last time in Indy, he isn’t going anywhere,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel declared.

Hibbert is one of 6 Indiana players who may become an independent agent July 1, and at 7-foot-2, he could become one of the hottest commodities on the market.

But as he may simply be a limited independent agent, the Pacers can complement any other offer to keep him.

So how much will it take to keep the blossoming 25-year-old?

That’s what the Pacers are attempting to find out.

Last week, Vogel and team president Larry Bird both indicated they would like the roster to return intact — a combination that will need signing 2 key restricted independent agents, Hibbert and guard George Hill.

The Pacers could have adequate cap room to work it. Early projections indicate the Pacers will be about $21 million under next season’s salary cap.

But Hibbert hasn’t gone public with a cost. Last Thursday, he stopped short of asserting he would give the Pacers a hometown discount.

“I want to make sure that everyone knows I like Indiana,” he claimed. “But as the process goes and we try to get something done, that’s something I’m leaving to my representative.”

Hibbert has been a critical piece in Indiana’s surprising turn-around.

As he advanced continuously on the court, so did the Pacers.

Hibbert averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds, both career-highs, this season, was selected an All-Star for the 1st time, helped the Pacers win their 1st playoff series in 7 years and even take a 2-1 lead over heavily favored Miami in the second round. Indiana lost the last 3 games to Miami Heat, but the playoff run made the excitement Pacers fans have been craving for a while.

If the Pacers are going to take the following step in 2012-13, reaching the Eastern Conference finals, they’ll need Hibbert back.

“Hopefully, all of us stay together, but we all know the Pacers have some tricky decisions to make,” asserted Hill, who got raised in Indianapolis and played college basketball at nearby IUPUI. “We just desire to continue to play together and grow as a young nucleus.”

Hibbert has support off the court, too.

The boisterous fans of Area 55, Hibbert’s own cheering section at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, arrived early for the softball game and were just as loud behind home plate as they routinely are for NBA games.

What the Pacers must choose is whether or not they can afford to keep him — or if it’d be too costly to lose Hibbert.

To Vogel, it’s a no brainer.

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

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