The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing agreement on a trade with the Indiana Pacers that will bring them former All-Star center Roy Hibbert by week’s end, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com the teams still are discussing the final framework of the deal but have committed to a swap that will see Hibbert absorbed into the Lakers’ salary cap space after they missed out on all of their primary free agent targets.
Thursday is the first day that the deal can be consummated, after a leaguewide moratorium on roster business is lifted, and one source told ESPN.com on Saturday: “It’ll get done after July 9,” referring to the end of the moratorium period.
The Lakers will absorb Hibbert’s $15.5 million salary for next season into their salary-cap space, sources said.
The Lakers were snubbed in free agency by high-profile targets such as LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, as well as second-tier big men such as Greg Monroe and Robin Lopez.
The obvious next step for the Lakers is to trade for a big man in the final year of his contract who won’t impact L.A.’s free agency plans for the summer of 2016, making Hibbert and former Golden State Warriors All-Star forward David Lee two natural targets.
But sources said Saturday that the Lakers are not actively pursuing Lee at the moment.
The Lakers’ draft night decision to select guard D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick, as opposed to a big man such as Jahlil Okafor or Kristaps Porzingis, has made finding a big man their priority in the short term.
Pacers president Larry Bird has made it fairly obvious since the end of Indiana’s season that Hibbert is no longer in the club’s plans. The Pacers were hoping that Hibbert would opt for free agency this summer, but he elected to exercise his player option for the coming season valued at $15.5 million.
As ESPN.com reported on draft night, when Hibbert’s decision to opt in became known, Indiana pledged then to try to trade its interior defensive anchor as it pursues a faster playing style. To speed its team up, Indiana struck a deal earlier this week with free-agent guard Monta Ellis, reaching terms with Ellis on a four-year, $44 million deal to sign him away from the Dallas Mavericks.
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His deal will be a four-year maximum contract worth more than $80 million, with an opt-out after the third year, a source told ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Sources said the pitch Aldridge received Friday in Los Angeles from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich — about playing with Tim Duncan his final days in the NBA and then taking over for him as the Spurs’ frontcourt linchpin alongside Kawhi Leonard — resonated strongly with Aldridge.
It was the Spurs’ second meeting with Aldridge. Popovich, Duncan, Leonard and Tony Parker all pitched Aldridge directly Wednesday morning, sources said.
Aldridge, who had spent his entire nine-year career with the Portland Trail Blazers, also met twice with the Los Angeles Lakers and entertained offers from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat.
Sources tell Stein that the signing of Aldridge all but clinches that Popovich, at the very least, will indeed coach beyond Duncan’s playing career as opposed to walking away from the bench when Duncan finally does retire, as Popovich has joked about on many occasions.
ESPN.com reported in May that Popovich landed a five-year, $55 million deal from Spurs owner Peter Holt after the team won the 2013-14 championship last summer, which surprised some observers because of the length of the contract. But Holt, in an interview with ESPN Radio during All-Star Weekend, said he thinks Popovich will actually see out the entire contract on the bench.
“He and I are roughly the same age,” Holt said. “In five years, he’d be 70. If his health holds up, I know he doesn’t believe it, but I believe he’ll stay. He’ll be there.”
Aldridge, 29, was drafted second overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2006, but was traded on draft night to the Trail Blazers for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. He made four All-Star teams during his nine-year career with the Blazers, and was named second-team All-NBA this season after two third team selections (2011, ’14).
Aldridge had been the central building block for the rebirth of the Blazers, becoming the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer last December, second only to the legendary Clyde Drexler. Aldridge became the franchise’s all-time leading rebounder in March, passing Drexler. He’s averaged more than 20 points per game each of the last five seasons, finishing with a career-high 23.4 this past season with 10.2 rebounds per game in 71 appearances (all starts).
Following the 2009-10 season, Aldridge signed a five-year, $65 million extension with the Blazers. He was part of trade rumors for much of the 2013 offseason, but expressed a desire to remain with the organization while also speaking candidly about wanting the roster improved around him. The Blazers finished fifth in the Western Conference with 54 wins, with Aldridge leading them to a first-round victory over the Houston Rockets. They won 51 games last season, finishing fourth, but were knocked out in five games by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Aldridge had a career year last season despite playing most of it with a torn ligament in his left thumb suffered in late January. After initially being ruled out six to eight weeks with expected surgery, Aldridge opted to play through the injury, missing only two games.
In 648 games, Aldridge holds career averages of 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-11 power forward grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and spent two years at the University of Texas in Austin — about 80 miles from San Antonio — before declaring for the 2006 draft.