Grant Hill re-signs, Channing Frye next

Hill, Nash and Co. could smile for once at the end of a game against a playoff team. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

After a call from good friend Steve Nash and a visit from Gentry, Kerr and Sarver in Orlando, Grant Hill will indeed stay in Phoenix. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

Just when I was positive Grant Hill was leaving for New York, Hill opted to stay in Phoenix with the Suns. I have learned not to assume anything is official until it is actually, well, official.

Contrary to previous days’ indications, Grant Hill has agreed to remain with the Phoenix Suns.  Paul Coro is reporting that Hill has signed a two-year deal with a second-year player option.  Hill will make $3 million next season and around $3.24 million in 2010. It looked like Grant Hill was all but on his way to the Big Apple, but with Steve Nash extension talks progressing quickly, Hill chose to remain in Phoenix.

I was ready for the Grant Hill goodbye ceremony, but the veteran forward chose Phoenix over expected destinations like New York and Boston. Boston was offering essentially $4 million over two years, while New York could offer Hill either a one-year $5.85 million dollar deal or a 3-year $10 million dollar deal.

Steve Kerr, Alvin Gentry and Robert Sarver traveled to Orlando to meet with Hill on Wednesday night and Thursday morning to offer Hill the new $6.24 million-dollar deal.  Steve Nash also called his good friend pitching his case for Hill to remain in Phoenix.  New York and Boston both made a lot of sense for Hill, but it was the news that Steve Nash was nearing an extension that swayed Hill.

In regards to the Nash and Hill situation, Hill’s agent Lon Babby told the Republic, “I do know it’s important for Grant that Steve be there next year. I know they’ve had conversations.”

With Nash and Hill signed for two more years, it looks like the Suns are poised for one more run.  Hill should come back and play the exact same role that he did for Alvin Gentry and the Suns last season.  Look for him to continue pushing the tempo and filling the lanes on the break.

Babby had this to say about Hill re-signing with the Suns: “Grant assessed the quality of the (Suns) team coming back and felt comfortable that they’d be extremely competitive.”

Babby added that Hill has some “unfinished business” in Phoenix. “He didn’t want to leave Phoenix on a sour note (after missing the playoffs),” Babby said.

In addition to retaining Hill, the Suns also have assurances from free agent big man Channing Frye and his agent Rob Pelinka that Frye will sign with the Suns. The 26-year old U of A product is expected to sign a two-year deal that includes a second-year player option.  ESPN is reporting that Frye will likely take the biannual exception for a deal totaling around $3.8 million dollars over the two years if he picks up his option.

Channing Frye will return to the valley to help the Phoenix Suns make a 2009 playoff run.

Native Phoenician Channing Frye will return to the Valley to help the Phoenix Suns make a 2009 playoff run.

Frye, a former Phoenix St. Mary’s High School product and 8th overall pick, was receiving interest from Cleveland, Denver, San Antonio, and Orlando, but ultimately chose Phoenix.

Frye was explosive his rookie year in New York, to the tune of 12.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg in 24 minutes per game. Unfortunately, Frye’s rookie campaign was cut short by a sprained knee ligament.  He was able to play 72 games the following season, yet he lost some of his quickness and explosion.

Frye has been caught behind LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland for the past two seasons, averaging only 17.2 and 11.8 minutes per game.  A chance to come back to Arizona and play for the high-octane Suns could turn Frye’s uneventful career around.

Frye is certainly not as athletic as he was pre-knee injury, but he is still a big body (6-11, 245) with a lot of skills.  His post-up game needs a little fine-tuning, but he makes up for his lack of back to the basket game with his ability to shoot the basketball. His range actually stretches all the way out to three-point range; he made 11 threes on 33 attempts last season.

Frye still is a little soft in regards to defense and rebounding, but he has the size and skills to come in and start next to Amare right away.  Depending on how Robin Lopez develops, Channing Frye may very well be the Suns’ starting center next season.

Although Frye and Hill won’t change the complexion of the Suns drastically, their signings finally allow people to see what Steve Kerr is trying to accomplish with this team. Prior to these signings, no one – including players and fans – had any idea where this franchise was headed.

One minute Amare was out the door, the next minute he was welcoming an extension.  Nash apparently wanted more money than the Suns would offer, but now it appears an extension is being reached.

The same uncertainty went on with Hill.  It seemed he would be playing in New York next season, and then he had a change of heart and chose to stay in Phoenix. Tyson Chandler was thought to be on his way to Phoenix, whereas he is now being tagged as ‘damaged goods.’

As you can see, Suns management hasn’t exactly done a good job of communicating with the fans and players regarding the direction of the team.  However, actions speak louder than words, and these signings speak volumes about where the Suns are headed.

As I previously alluded to, a Hill signing means that Nash will probably re-sign. What comes along with a Nash extension may be a commitment to Amar’e Stoudemire. Realgm.com has reported that the Suns will at least keep STAT for the 09-10 season.  With that said, Golden State trade rumors can finally be put to bed.

It seems that Kerr is choosing to go for another playoff run with a team very similar to last season’s, aside from Shaq of course.  The Suns will hold off on the “rebuilding” project and will continue to do what they have done for the better part of 10 years: try to compete in a loaded Western Conference.

Whether the Suns will be a factor in the West with this current roster I can’t say.  But at least we know Kerr and Sarver have made a little more  of a commitment to winning than most people had believed they would.

As of now, this looks like a 2009-2010 playoff team:

PG – Nash/Dragic

SG – Ricardson/Barbosa/Tucker

SF – Hill/Dudley/Clark

PF – Amare/Lou/Griffin

C – Frye/Lopez

Yes last year’s lineup may have been more impressive on paper, but with a full year together, this team could surprise a lot of people. No one had big expectations for the Suns going into the 2004-2005 season, and look what happened that year.

As a result of these signings, the Suns get better as a team and finally show the direction in which they are headed.  We can also now assume that the Suns will in fact re-sign Steve Nash, Amare will be around at least one more season, and the Suns will not choose to blow it up and start over.

The signings of Grant Hill and Channing Frye alone are huge for the Suns, but it is these implications that come along with the acquisitions that can finally put Suns fans at ease.

Suns nearing buyout of Wallace

It has been a busy day for the Suns’ front office.  The Suns are nearing a $10 million dollar buyout of Ben Wallace’s current $14 million dollar contract. Once Sasha Pavlovic is waived, the Suns could end up saving as much as $18 million dollars from the Shaq deal depending on their luxury tax situation.

Clark signs rookie deal

The Suns also agreed to a four-year deal with the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft, Earl Clark. Clark will make $1.77 million his rookie season and has a guaranteed $1.89 million his second season.  As for the last two years, the Suns hold team a team option for the third year at $2.03 million and another team option on the fourth year at $3.03 million.  

This signing was obviously expected, but it is nice to have it finalized.  Clark will have his chance to show what he can do come Monday in the Las Vegas Summer League.

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