The end could be near for Grant Hill

Posted by on June 9th, 10:59 am

Will Grant Hill return to the court and will it be in Phoenix? (AP Photo/Matt York)

Will Grant Hill return to the court and will it be in Phoenix? (AP Photo/Matt York)

Last offseason the Phoenix Suns used $6.5 million, the NBA’s top training staff, good friends Steve Nash and Alvin Gentry, and the Arizona sunshine to lure Grant Hill away from a handful of perennial playoff contenders.

The 39-year-old was his usual self on the defensive end and in the locker room, but inconsistent offensive production along with injury issues further validated the fact that the end is near for Hill, now an unrestricted free agent.

Hill’s 10.3 points per game was the lowest of his 17-year career and it was clear the NBA’s oldest player aside from Kurt Thomas wasn’t nearly as effective on the offensive end.

His patented mid-range jumpers and transition layups didn’t come as often, and like the Suns, his season ended on a sour note after undergoing a minor knee surgery that kept him out 14 of Phoenix’s final 17 games.

The questions now become, will Hill return to the court next season and if he does will it be with a rebuilding Suns team?

There’s no doubt Hill can still produce in some capacity with his defense, savvy offensive game and veteran leadership. He was once again tremendous on the defensive end last season as he held opponents to 36.5 percent shooting, according to mySynergySports.

Gentry stuck him on the Kevin Durants and Kobe Bryants of the league and he more than held his own. But while Hill can still certainly still compete in the NBA, Phoenix simply doesn’t make any sense for the veteran swingman from a basketball standpoint.

Sure, Hill swears by the training staff and loves the city, but there’s really no reason to bring him back aside from having a veteran presence to help the Suns with their rebuilding process.

Phoenix clearly needs to get younger and bringing back the NBA’s oldest player doesn’t exactly align with that plan. I wouldn’t count out a Hill return if the Suns bring Nash back as Phoenix would try and put pieces around the two-time MVP and his great friend Hill would certainly be on his wish list.

But with the Suns hoping to inject youth into the franchise and go in a new direction, Hill could have very well played his last game in purple and orange. Hill can undoubtedly be a solid role player on a contender as he almost chose to be last season.

There’s a market for lockdown defenders like Hill and teams will be calling this offseason. Although he gave the Suns five great seasons and has been a model citizen in Phoenix, the Suns shouldn’t make Hill a priority this offseason.

Even if the price is right they’ll need to let their youngsters — assuming they add more — get some burn and develop for them to move in the right direction. If Hill does call it quits the Suns should consider adding him to the coaching staff or front office in some capacity.

He’s had such a positive influence on the franchise and the community and given his relationship with Gentry it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t want to stick around. Who knows, it could be Hill, as a front office member or coach, that has a hand in bringing Nash back to the Valley to close out his career.

Ever since coming to Phoenix in 2007 to resurrect his career, Hill has been nothing short of spectacular in turning around his once injury-riddled career to become the model of health and consistency.

He brought a breath of fresh air and a new perspective to the Suns’ locker room while bringing it on the court. But even with all of that said, the Suns shouldn’t bring back Hill (as a player at least) as doing so simply doesn’t align with their motives to rebuild.

Mike Schmitz

Mike Schmitz is a former ValleyoftheSuns writer who now works as an assistant video coordinator for the D-League\\’s Bakersfield Jam. He specialized in video breakdowns for VotS.

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Tags: Grant Hill · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alex // Jun 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

    So, you want to bring him back if Nash decides to return? I think if he ever plays in the NBA again it’ll be for Phoenix regardless of what Nash might do. I’d love him as a leader on the floor for around 20 minutes a game.

  • 2 Ty-Sun // Jun 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I’d say it all depends on which way the FO wants to go. If Nash leaves and the Suns go into full rebuilding mode, I really can’t see Hill coming back. If they do keep Nash and they try again to rebuild on the fly by trades and/or FAs then it’s possible he could return. Even at his age I’ll bet he can still outplay almost every backup SF in the NBA and I would love it if he would at least consider being the veteran anchor for the Suns’ bench unit. But I think it’s more likely that a contender will offer him a better contract just to come off the bench when they need a defensive stopper.

  • 3 Tony // Jun 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I disagree with the central theme of this article, that is, assuming the Suns go into rebuilding mode, that it makes no sense for the Suns to resign Hill. Veteran leadership is crucial for even rebuilding franchises. For instance, take the Kings, a team loaded with youth and young talent. Yet once again, the Kings were a lottery team once again this year. This is in large part due to the lack of veteran leadership on the court for the Kings.

    All teams need veteran leadership to succeed. Hill has been a great leader for the Suns and it is because of that leadership, and Nash’s as well, that the Suns were so close to making the playoffs this season. Hence, I see no reason why the Suns FO should not make a major effort to resign Hill even if Nash leaves and the Suns go into full rebuilding mode. He can be a great influence for the Suns newcomers and provide stability on the court to help the team develop chemistry.

  • 4 Scott // Jun 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I’m not in basic agreement with this article. Hill was still recovering from surgery when the season started, and he had some setbacks related to that.

    I think Hill has another year coming to him with the Suns. And I don’t think it should keep the Suns from acquiring young talent. Young talent can be stashed overseas or put in the D-League, if roster space is at a premium. If salary is an issue, then I’d consider asking Hill to take less.

    A bigger issue to me is Childress’s contract. Childress was getting basically as much as Hill did this year, but without producing as well on either end.

  • 5 Ty-Sun // Jun 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I really don’t read it as an “it makes no sense to bring Hill back” article but rather one that says bringing him back shouldn’t be a priority and I agree with that. Personally, I’d love to see him back next year but I can’t see getting into a bidding war with other teams to keep him here or keeping him for one more year if the Suns have a chance to sign a younger SF with some potential.

    Other teams WILL make him offers just to get his defense. While there is no one out there on the FA market that can fully replace Hill, there is always the possibility of a trade. Depending on a lot of other variables, I can see both a strong case for keeping him and a just as strong case to let him go. It’s just too soon to say for sure which case should be made.

  • 6 Scott // Jun 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    While I can see where it is POSSIBLE for the roster to get re-arranged to the point where Hill is superfluous, I don’t see it as being likely.

    For instance, even if the Suns were to draft a SF like Quincy Miller, I think they’d still want Hill on board. The odd man out is more likely to be Childress.

    Also, I suspect most other teams looking to acquire Hill would be looking to have him come off the bench. Unless Hill has changed his mind about it, that’s not in his plans.

  • 7 Ty-Sun // Jun 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    It just comes down to the numbers sometimes. Would you rather keep Hill for one more season or sign Mayo? Or Dragic? Or Gerald Wallace? Or Kevin Garnett? Or Jeremy Lin? Or Deron Williams?

    I’d love to see the Suns sign any of those players AND keep Hill but if it came down to an either/or situation… I’m sorry Grant but I would have to choose the player that would most likely contribute the most to the Suns for more than just one season.

  • 8 steve // Jun 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I like Hill. He’s one of my all-time favorite players. If he hadn’t been injured for his prime, we’d be talking about whether he’s a top 10 player of all time or a top 20 player of all time, not asking “should he even get into the hall of fame?”

    That said, he’s outlived his usefulness. I know about the backlash I’ll receive if I use any stats to back up my position, but just look at ANY of Hill’s quantifiable numbers and tell me there isn’t someone out there who can do more than what he does for less money.

    He’s still a great on-the-ball defensive player, and for that I give him a ton of credit. However, is that really what the Suns need? Do the Suns need another body out there who can’t score just because he comes up with a handful (or a dozen) defensive gems every year? If they had a guy who was dropping 30 points on that same night, then sure, the Suns could afford to have Hill out on the court to guard the Kobes, LeBrons, Wades, and Durants of the world.

    You guys want to know something about Hill this season? ORtg of 100. DRtg of 107. Every other Suns starter was positive. WS48 of 0.055. Every other Suns starter was above average (0.100). PER of 12.3. Channing Frye was the only other starter (14.9) below average (15.0). Hill had career lows in TS%, ORB%, TRB%, ORtg, WS48, and PPG, and was near his career lows in every other major category.

    He had his best years ripped from him, and he made a marvelous comeback, ensuring himself my hall of fame vote (if I had one). In my book, he’s easily one of the 50 best players who have ever played the game, but he’s got nothing left to offer this league besides the occasional great defensive night, and that’s not what the Suns need at this point in time.

  • 9 Cam // Jun 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I just read an article stating that sac town is looking to possibly trade Tyreke Evans. Should the Suns pursue or should they pass. He fits the need for a dynamic SG and would allow the Suns the freedom to draft a PG or fill another need. I think if the Kings were willing to take Gortat for Evans the Suns could use the 13th pick on a PG, then use their cap space to get another first round pick and draft a PF/C, depending on who he best player is available at those positions. This is assuming that the Suns match any offer made to Fropez. Evans is intriguing because he fits a need and is only 22 years old, despite being in the league for three years. Go Suns.

  • 10 Tony // Jun 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    @Steve,

    there you go with your stats again! What those stats don’t take into account is that because of the unusual start of the season and Hill’s pre-season injury, it took him an unusual amount of time to be fully NBA-ready. I believe it took him between one and two months to really be game-ready and have the lift he was accustomed to on his jump-shots. I know you hate hypotheticals, but assuming Hill is resigned for next season and assuming he recovers from his knee injury, with the regular pre-season time to prepare for next season, he probably will have a better season than this season.

    With that being said, I’m not advocating that the FO resign him at $6 million for the season, especially if he makes it difficult to sign someone else. But considering that it’s unlikely the Suns make any appreciably significant improvements to the roster for next season, they will still have a ton of salary cap room. With that being the likely scenario, why not try to resign him?

    @Cam,

    Evans has a ton of talent but he needs to learn the mental aspect of the game. This is where Hill might make a difference in teaching Evans how to be a leader. If the Suns don’t bring in a respected veteran player, then Evans will probably remain just a mediocre player with a ton of talent.

  • 11 Alex // Jun 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Grant said he wants to retire in Phoenix, so I don’t any reason why would lose a bidding war against any contenders. He will work out the entire offseason with the Suns’ medical staff so I’m pretty sure he’ll be back regardless of Nash’s decision.

  • 12 shazam // Jun 10, 2012 at 3:03 am

    the whole premise is wrong..the suns arent in re-build mode..they are still in the con the fans with mediocre mode so they can sell tickets..its not sports w/ the suns anymore..its strictly business.

  • 13 steve // Jun 10, 2012 at 6:57 am

    You say tomato, I say you’re ridiculous.

  • 14 Scott // Jun 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    @Cam -

    I haven’t seen any authoritative articles saying that the Kings are looking to trade Evans. Just the usual “suggestion from a sports writer” type article, which means nothing.

    If a Kings sports writer says, “I think the Kings should trade Evans,” or a Pacer’s writer say “I’d like for the Pacers to try to trade to get Evans,” that’s not really news.

  • 15 Tony // Jun 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    @Shazam,

    With the roster the team is likely going to have assembled by next season, I doubt the Suns will even remain mediocre. I agree that the FO’s goal is to have a mediocre roster while keeping player costs down as far as possible. But, with only one legitimate starter in Gortat at this point, and with the very unlikely chance of them obtaining a really good player this off-season, I really don’t see how they can call it anything other than rebuilding.

    The key question then becomes rebuilding for what? I have no idea, as I don’t believe any of the Three Stooges are really committed or able to make the Suns an elite team again. But that won’t stop them from acting as if this is their goal and some dummies will believe them. But considering that the Suns were 21st in attendance this season, it appears as if more and more true Suns fans aren’t buying into the FO’s message anymore. Hopefully this trend continues, but we’ll see.

  • 16 B. Cray Z. // Jun 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Hill should have his choice.

    We owe him that much foe sure.

  • 17 B. Cray Z. // Jun 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    “For” sure.

    Know that he will give it his all & that will be respected & emulated by our young guys, just as they do with Nash. What will mean more than cash for Hill & Nash is to bring back Gogi. Or Louis or The Brazilian Blur or all of them or even two of them.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!11

  • 18 steve // Jun 11, 2012 at 12:01 am

    And there it is. Boom goes the dynamite.

  • 19 Cam // Jun 11, 2012 at 12:33 am

    @Scott,
    The article I read mentioned that the Kings were planning on not offering Evans an extension and possibly looking into trading him for veteran talent/pick(s). I was just rosterbating, using that info to fuel my wants and needs for the Suns. Would a trade like that ever happen, unlikely. But a boy can dream. Go Suns.

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