Pacers aim to lock up Roy Hibbert, George Hill as free agency looms
Written by Mike Wells
Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard kept the details vague but the team plans to be aggressive with free-agent center Roy Hibbert. Come Sunday morning at 12:01 a.m., the start of the NBA free agency period, the Pacers will be on Hibbert's doorstep making their pitch to re-sign the free agent center.
"We'll absolutely be there," Pritchard said.
The Pacers will also be meeting with free agent guard George Hill once he returns from vacation.
The team's free agency strategy is simple. Re-sign Hibbert and Hill so they can keep their starting unit together, then add pieces to their bench.
"Continuity moving forward with good teams is real important," Pritchard said. "You want to keep the same guys because for whatever reason they learn each other better. You look at the elite teams who have had success, they stay together with small changes.
"This team isn't about blowing it up and starting it new. We have to keep the same pieces in place and we have to keep growing."
The Pacers finished with the fifth best record in the league and advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season.
Teams can only agree to contracts and trades during the moratorium period from Sunday through July 10. Starting July 11, deals can be signed.
Hibbert and Hill are both restricted free agents, which means the Pacers can match any offer made to them. Teams have three days to match offers made to restricted free agents. The Pacers will likely match offers made to Hibbert and Hill.
Both players have said in the past that they want to re-sign with the Pacers.
Pacers owner Herb Simon told Pritchard and president Donnie Walsh that he is willing to spend money in order to improve the team.
The Pacers will have about $10 million in salary cap space available without it impacting their ability to re-sign Hill and Hibbert.
Point guard Darren Collison, who lost his starting job to Hill because of an injury at the end of the regular season, told the front office during his exit interview that he wants to return next season.
"I'd love to have him back. Is it possible? I think so," Pritchard said. "At some point in time there might have to be changes made, but that's not our goal. He came up and told us he wants to be back."
Center Kyrylo Fesenko is open to re-signing with the Pacers. He only played in three games after being acquired late in the season.
Pritchard plans to work the phones in an attempt to add another big man and scorer on the wing. Guards Brandon Roy and O.J. Mayo are two wings players the Pacers plan to pursue. Jamal Crawford could also be a possibility.
Roy, a former All Star, retired last season because of knee problems but he's attempting a comeback. He and Pritchard were together in Portland.
Mayo became an unrestricted free agent Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies did not tender a qualifying offer to him. Former Pacers president Larry Bird tried on several occasions to trade for Mayo in the past.
Crawford signed with Portland instead of the Pacers last season.
The Pacers are also expected to contact point guard Deron Williams' agent, but the top free agent on the market is expected to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets or go to Dallas. Future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash also reportedly has a small list of teams he wants to sign with; however the Pacers aren't one of them.