In a deal first reported five days ago, the Indiana Pacers sent 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday for a future second-round draft pick.
The move frees up salary cap space as the Lakers assume Hibbert’s $15.5-million salary for the 2015-16 season.
The Pacers had been rumored to be shopping Hibbert for more than a year, and President Larry Bird was working the phones this offseason after informing the two-time All-Star center that his playing time might be reduced as the team shifts toward an up-tempo style.
Hibbert was often criticized for inconsistent offensive play during his seven seasons with the team. His strengths were shot-blocking and defense, which is why he was selected twice to the All-Star team although he has a career scoring average of 11.1 points. He also averaged 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 shot blocks.
“I’d like to thank Roy for all his contributions during his time in Indiana,” Bird said in a statement released by the team. “He was a two-time NBA All-Star, and we appreciate everything he did for our franchise both on and off the court.”
Before the deal was announced, Hibbert had already changed the main photo on his Twitter page to a Lakers logo.
The Pacers, who also received $12.6 million when forward David West opted out of his contract, have already spent some of the money on former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis, who has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $44-million contract that the team has yet to publicly announce.Forward Lavoy Allen was re-signed and 7-0 center Myles Turner was drafted in the first round, but the Pacers will be in the market for size. The team has also reportedly re-signed guard Rodney Stuckey to a three-year, $21-million deal.
It’s possible the Pacers will sign a Lakers center that Hibbert will be replacing in Jordan Hill. The team is reportedly close to agreeing to a contract with Hill, according to Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star and The Sporting News.
Hill, a 6-10 center who has also played for the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, averaged 12 points and 7.9 rebounds for the Lakers last season. The Lakers declined to pick up his contract option.
Another player who won’t be returning to the Pacers is reserve forward Luis Scola, who agreed to a one-year, $3-million deal with the Toronto Raptors.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.