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.
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