Grant Hill the 'top priority' for Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns want Grant Hill back, and the feeling is mutual. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Phoenix Suns want Grant Hill back, and the feeling is mutual. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Phoenix Suns are not expected to make much of a splash in free agency this December, at least not in a way that would put a dent into their 2012 cap space.

So while other teams were off chasing the Tyson Chandlers and Nenes of the world Wednesday morning when teams could first contact agents, Lon Babby’s first call was to the agent of a very familiar face: Grant Hill.

“Grant is an absolute first order of business and top priority,” Babby told The Arizona Republic. “I can’t contemplate him not being here. He represents everything we want the franchise to stand for — on and off the court. He’s our ballast.”

With Babby being Hill’s former agent and Alvin Gentry being his long-time coach who gushes about the former Blue Devil every chance he gets, Hill re-signing has always been something of a foregone conclusion.

However, with Hill having turned 39 years old in October it also would make sense for him to at least test the free agency waters as he did two years ago with the Knicks and Celtics seriously pursuing. Hill would be an ideal role player for a title contender with his defense, intangibles and mid-range jumper, but Paul Coro reported that both sides want a Suns reunion to happen for Hill.

It would make sense to offer Hill a one-year deal in the $3-4 million range, but I would be leery of offering him any more years than that.

Suns trainer Aaron Nelson told me before 2010-11 finished that Hill could “definitely play a couple more years” and with his intense training regimen and ultra healthy diet I wouldn’t bet against him.

I definitely feel it’s likely Hill has a couple more productive years in him, but I just don’t see it being too smart to tie 2012 money up on a player who will be entering his 40s in 2012-13. If Hill enjoys another successful season then at that point I would be willing to talk about Hill’s age 40 season if I’m Babby.

Still, signing Hill for this season really is a no-brainer. The Suns’ top offseason priority remains improving their defense, and they don’t have much of a shot of doing that without their top defender in Hill.

Hill also provides the Suns with the kind of stability that will be necessary during what promises to be a chaotic season, as his signing would ensure that all of Phoenix’s key rotations players return.

If only their first decision next offseason would be this easy.

And 1

  • The Suns will play their preseason home-and-home against the Denver Nuggets, The Arizona Republic reported. Each NBA team will play two such games against a neighboring squad and the Suns drew the Nuggets since their divisional rivals all have a more logical geographic partner.
  • VotS guest writer Emile Avanessian runs down the five greatest highlights in Suns history at Hardwood Hype.

Tags: Grant Hill

  • Scott

    I don’t know about the dollar figures in the contract, but I think both sides would be comfortable with another two year contract where it is team choice to renew for the second year.

    I think the main thing for Hill is that he must be able to play well enough to start. If he can’t play well enough to start, I think he may either retire or possibly take a bench position on a contending team. My impression is that he’s formally undecided on it, but probably feeling about 90% certain he wants to end his career as a starter.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    if Grant Hill is the top priority, then there isn’t much else to be said about the mindset of the front office going into this year.

  • sun-arc

    This is likely Hill’s final contract, I’d think. My guess is he’ll want more than one year. And we don’t want him for more than one year so we don’t tie up money for next summer. A team option would be perfect- but Hill could probably get another team to give him a 2 year deal. He’d be a steal for the Heat or Knicks at 3 mil/year. I’d love to see him here for another year if Nash is going to be here. Otherwise, I’d like to see him do well somewhere. NOT that I want to see the Heat do well ever…

    Of course if we traded both of them to NYC for draft picks and Landry, that’d be interesting to see.

  • Mike Meez

    ditto to what Rich Anthony said, and no offense to Grant. I’d be thrilled to keep him here. He’s a good all-around guy and he’s been able to resurrect his career here. But we absolutely need to be looking at other players to add. Even before using an amnesty clause on someone (J-Chill?), Suns are about $9 million under the salary cap and $21 million under the luxury tax level. I’m not saying Sarver needs to break the bank, but we have some room to work. If he can’t afford to pay at least the salary cap, he should no longer own the team.

  • Scott

    @Rich and Mike -

    Okay, what free agent out there is a higher priority than Grant Hill?

    Grant has been with the Suns for years now, he’s intelligent, he knows the plays, he’s not a headcase, and he’s a hard worker. His contracts thus far have been for very little money, too. He’s been a steal for the Suns.

    Yes, there are other players in the league that the Suns could be looking at acquiring, but they are not free agents. The Suns would have to get them through trades. There’s very little of value in this year’s FA crop.

    And, as I’ve said before in these forums, I hope the Suns look into free agents Michael Redd and Caron Butler as possible solutions for crunch time scoring. Both men have a recent history of injury, are on the downward slope of their careers, and neither is likely to win an all-star spot, but they have toughness, can shoot the 3 at 40%, can play the SG spot, and both have been “the man” for their teams in the past (Bucks / Wiz). That said, the Suns should not overpay for either player, and should only take one of them if the price is right.

    If I was Suns GM, I’d be offering Redd and Butler the same deal I’d been giving Hill the last few seasons. If one of them takes it, fine, and if not, just move on.

  • Scott

    @Mike -

    As far as being under the salary cap goes, extra space makes room for trades in the present and for new and larger salaries in the future. You don’t want to fill it up with free agents you don’t really need, especially if one of the items on your agenda this year or the next is to sign a major star.

    For example, if the Suns were to trade Nash for D Will, they’d need the space to take on D Will’s larger contract. That’s $6 million dollars.

    Likewise, if the Suns were to trade a player with a shorter contract for one with a longer contract – like, say, Pietrus (1 year) for Udrih (2 years) – then they need to be looking ahead to be sure they won’t be over-committed and will have room to maneuver in future years.

    Also, if the Suns wanted to bid on, say, either Howard or Paul next year, they’ll need the cap room to do it. I could see $20 million being the offer for Howard.

    So there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being below the salary cap. It can be a virtue. And it can be a sign that a team is getting serious about making a big purchase.

  • Tony

    I do not understand Sarver’s 2012 plan at all. I don’t care how much cap flexibility the Suns have in 2012, they are not signing Howard, Paul, or any other top free agent. Star players are not going to sign on to a horrible team for the same amount of money they can get playing elsewhere for a much better team and in a bigger market. It’s just stupid to believe the Suns are going to bring in a star player next season via free agency. Not only is the team still going to be lousy next season, but the other incentive for star players to stay away from the Suns is having to play for Sarver. The guy’s reputation is so bad that even agents have said they will try to keep their clients away from the likes of him and a few other owners.
    The team needs to rebuild through the draft at this point and maybe consider trading Nash and or Gortat, since although he’s capable of being a very-good player, he’s not a franchise player and he is already 28. With that being said, this notion that the SUns are going to make a splash in the 2012 free-agency period is ridiculous.

  • Zak

    @ Tony – I don’t think anyone understands Sarver’s 2012 plan. I agree with everything you said except with considering trading Gortat. Yes, he’s not a franchise player but he’s a very good center even by NBA standards which isn’t something easy to find.

    Sarver won’t trade Nash though because he puts fans in the seats. I don’t live near Phoenix and have never personally watched a game there. I HAVE traveled near or over 200 miles to watch Steve and the Suns play in either Dallas, Memphis or New Orleans. Sarver knows Nash draws a crowd when he plays. That’s why he won’t trade him. Steve is still amazing to watch. Without him, Sarver is afraid that the fans won’t fill the stands anymore. Sarver may think that he can to get another big name FA name to fill the stands after Nash retires but he’s wrong. He does have a bad rep in the NBA and most of the great pros who are looking for a championship ring will go elsewhere no matter what Sarver offers them. Why? Because those guys will always be able to find at least as good an offer with a team that has a better chance of making it to the NBA championships than the Suns.

    Sarver will run the Suns into the ground until the stands start to empty. But as long as Nash is with the Suns, the fans will come. If he trades him, the fans like me will still come to watch him play… just not in Phoenix. Sarver knows this.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I don’t know what the plans for 2012 may be, or even if there are any plans. What I was saying is that if you don’t have cap space, and if you have used it up on free agents who aren’t going to do a thing for your club, then your team is not in a very good position this year or going forward.

  • Scott

    BTW, rebuilding through the draft isn’t an easy, no-brainer process. Even if you draft high and do your homework, you have to get lucky in the draft, and then you have to continue to be lucky after the draft.

    Every year there are top 10 picks that are washouts. The drafts some years are better than others, too, so if you’re high pick is in an off year, you get hosed. And then once you get your guy, and make him your franchise player, you have to hope his knees hold up (Brandon Roy, Agent Zero).

    And even if you do get your “once in a generation talent,” like Shaq or LeBron, can you hold onto him? Are you able to gather the right pieces to complement that player?

    Rebuilding through the draft isn’t easy. OKC has been fortunate. The Spurs were fortunate. The other perennial non-playoff teams have not been so fortunate.

  • Scott

    Let me also add that if the Suns do want to trade Nash, they probably want to sign Hill before they do so.

  • chuckyj1

    Our team will probably never be a contender with Sarver as Pres.

    I would support a trade to Nash to a contender, because I feel Sarver is wasting Nash’s final years in a great career. Sarver is not serious about winning, he only cares about profit. But, if he keeps fielding underacheveing teams his profits will dwindle along with the Suns records.