The sun has set on Grant Hill’s time in Phoenix. ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that Hill and the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a two-year deal. The salary terms of the contract are not yet known.
The Clippers are attempting to work out a sign-and-trade with the Suns that would allow Los Angeles to pay Hill more than the $1.9 million biannual exception they have available. That deal would reportedly bring small forward Ryan Gomes to Phoenix. If the Clippers and Suns cannot work out a trade then Hill will sign for the biannual exception amount.
Although the Suns front office had not expressed a great deal of interest in bringing Hill back next season, his departure leaves the Suns’ cupboard even more bare at the wing spots. As Michael Schwartz wrote yesterday, the Suns have only one true wing on the roster in Jared Dudley. Because of the log jam at power forward, new addition Michael Beasley will play mostly at small forward, but that only raises the total to two. Making matters worse, the free agent shelves are getting sparse as well now that O.J. Mayo has signed a multi-year deal in Dallas. The Suns will most likely move forward by pursuing Courtney Lee or reaching a one-year deal with Shannon Brown.
Acquiring Gomes via sign-and-trade could help fill the shortage of wings as well. Gomes is a true small forward. Though he averaged only 2.3 points and 13.3 minutes per game last season, he did have some productive years as a starter in Minnesota and is still only 29 years old. While he is by no means a starting-caliber player right now, he would provide depth for Suns, something they will definitely need in the upcoming season.
As for Hill, who will turn 40 at the beginning of the season, his five years in Phoenix will be remembered fondly by media, fans, and teammates alike. Hill experienced a career renaissance with the Suns. Before his arrival in the desert, injuries that had cost him hundreds of games in his prime were Hill’s legacy. With the help of the Suns’ legendary training staff, however, he played all 82 games for the first time in his career during the 2008-09 season.
Though he lacked the athleticism that made him a superstar in his youth, Grant reinvented himself as Phoenix’s defensive stopper in recent years. The 39-year old went toe-to-toe with some of the best scorers in the league last season and won more battles than he lost. Even when injuries forced him to the sideline during the Suns’ star-crossed playoff push, Hill still provided veteran leadership and enthusiasm to a team desperately in need of both. The Suns have shaken up their roster in an effort to start anew next season, but Hill will still be missed.
It was widely speculated by many after Steve Nash’s departure that Hill would follow his friend to the Lakers. Those people got the city and the arena right, just not the jersey colors. Suns fans will no doubt rejoice in not having to see another of their favorite players donning the purple and gold.