The NBA’s worst-kept summer secret will be the Phoenix Suns’ attempt at rebuilding. As I’ve said before, there doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul, but making Amar’e the centerpiece, finding Steve Nash‘s eventual replacement, and exploring a Shaq trade would be the obvious first three steps.
When that rebuilding process starts, will there be any room for Grant Hill? Arguably the Suns’ most consistent player down the stretch (17 ppg in April) and one of their dependable crunch-time scorers (his mid-range J has been automatic lately), Hill is averaging 11.8 points on 52 percent shooting and 4.9 boards, and is on his way to playing a full 82-game slate (at just under 30 minutes a night) for the first time in his career.
Hill, who made $1.9 million this year, will be an unrestricted free agent. At 36 years old he’s obviously looking for a ring — or at least to make it past the first round for once — but at the same time, told the Arizona Republic he likes his situation in Phoenix:
“It depends on what the goals and objectives are,” said Hill, still looking to advance in the playoffs for the first time in his career. “I think we can still be competitive in the West. My gut tells me they want to continue to compete in the West. I get the feeling they want me back and I want to be back.”
If Hill tests the market, how many teams will be taking a serious look at him? While he’s proven he can stay healthy, no one knows whether his newfound durability is simply a result of Phoenix’s now-famous medical staff, who have been able to work magic that other franchises somehow can’t. Going to another team with another medical staff, no one would be surprised to see Hill start missing chunks of the schedule again.
Hill is one of those guys who just loves to play, who doesn’t need to be a star or even a starter, and who can help any team he ends up on. But if the right situation doesn’t present itself — he’s not gonna waste his time playing for Sacramento, Golden State or even a fringe playoff team like New Jersey — Hill might consider retiring.
But I don’t think he will. Looking at the contenders and almost-contenders out there, I think one team would be a perfect fit: Atlanta.
The only true small forward on the Hawks’ roster is Marvin Williams, but he’ll be a restricted free agent, and the fact that ATL didn’t step up and sign him to an extension when they had the chance shows they may not be too sold on him. Hill would provide some (inexpensive) veteran leadership for a young team, he’d get quality minutes on a playoff team, and he wouldn’t be asked to do too much with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith carrying the load.
He’d also be right next to the NBA TV and TNT studios, and it’s a stone-cold lock that Grant Hill is going to transition into an on-air TV career the minute his playing days are over.
Is there room for Grant Hill on your team next year?