Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Overall, this summer has been a huge disappointment for the NBA. After having one of the best NBA Playoff runs ever that was capped off with the league’s brightest foreign star defeating two of the league’s brightest stars period, the NBA failed to reach an agreement with their players and is currently entrenched in a lockout that won’t be resolved for a long time.1 In the midst of one of the greatest talent influxes in sports history, the league and their 30 owners could not keep up the momentum for mistakes they made during their last session of labor negotiations a few years ago.
So, us, as fans, are paying for those mistakes and David Stern is unlikely to accept any deal that favors the players because this will likely be his last, which will only prolong the process.2 As a result, free agency is postponed until the day the lockout is over because of the rules that prevent teams from contacting players.3 Luckily, I can’t be fined $1 million for mentioning teams and players in the same posts so I’m going to take a look at one of the most intriguing targets on the market this season.
That target it Grant Hill, a 38-year old that is coming off one of his best seasons in the past 10 years. You’ve heard the tale many times about Hill being a “fresh” 38-year old because of the injuries that cost him significant time earlier in his career but the truth his that he’s only played less than 50 games in three of his 16 years. Now, by comparison, he has played in 248 less games than a fellow 16-year veteran Kevin Garnett, but he has still laced them up for 948 career games. I’m not trying to say I don’t think Hill will hold up for another two season or so but he may not be good for another five seasons, which some people think he could manage because of those early season injuries.
That being said, for a team that is going to contend for the title this season, Hill is a nearly perfect option. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, willing to take on the opposition’s best player every night. He’s an efficient scorer that has a nice touch from the mid-range and shot 41% from three during his last two seasons in Phoenix and there’s a chance he’s finally developed a consistent stroke from beyond the arc. Additionally, he’s one of the better people around the league (he’s currently campaigning against homophobic slurs) and he’s a fantastic teammate. Here are some of the teams that are in contention and could use a player like Hill:
The Celtics have been looking for wing help for a long time. Perhaps adding a 38-year old is exactly the kind of move Danny Ainge is trying to avoid at this point. After all, he did trade away his title chances last season for Jeff Green4 and they absolutely need to get younger sooner rather than later. But should they not re-sign Green this off-season – he’s a restricted free agent – they need a back-up small forward for Paul Pierce and with reduced minutes, Hill could continue to look fresh.
Even if the C’s do re-sign Green, Boston doesn’t really have a back-up for Ray Allen either. When they drafted Marshon Brooks, I thought he was their replacement plan for Allen but they ended up trading him for a power forward prospect. When healthy, Delonte West is the perfect kind of guy to have backing up Allen but he will be a free agent this off-season and there may be some riffs between himself and the rest of the C’s (he was reportedly in a fight with Von Wafer last season). Thus, Hill could spend time backing up Allen and Boston would finally be able to put a line-up on the floor that didn’t force one of their Big Three to play with the second unit. While those line-ups have been productive, especially with Allen, as they continue to age, resting them for the fourth quarter will become increasingly important.
The problem with Boston is that, if they lose Glen Davis, they will desperately need some size. Shaq’s retirement and Nenad Krstic going overseas to play leaves them with only one center on the roster in Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal was actually effective during the playoffs last season but he’s a huge injury risk and he’s unlikely good enough to hold down the center spot on a contender all by himself. And if Davis leaves, Kevin Garnett will have similar problems. Boston has a lot of holes to fill this off-season but Hill certainly fills one of them and if they have the money left over he would be the perfect fit.
The Bulls could really use a scoring threat rather than a specialist like Hill but after watching Kyle Korver fold against the Heat and Derrick Rose struggle to get his shot off against LeBron, Hill can certainly provide some offensive relief while playing excellent perimeter defense. Korver is certainly a great fit for Rose on the wing with his perimeter shooting – as we saw against the Pacers – but he was attacked defensively by LeBron and Dwyane Wade when he was in against the Heat. On top of that, his shot was off, making him completely useless.
If Hill can continue to knock down three’s at the 40% rate he established in Phoenix over the past two seasons then that makes him a competent Korver replacement in a a few ways and his defensive advantage is vast. Hill doesn’t move the same way as Korver off the ball, so you can’t run your offense around him like they do when Korver is running the baseline using downscreens. That being said, Hill is a bit more versatile offensively and is just as good of a spot-up shooter when he is left open.
Chicago does have a pretty heavy cap number for next season so, depending on the new CBA, they may not have a ton of money to spend. But they absolutely have to make a move this summer in order to get all the way to the Finals and unless they can somehow get Arron Afflalo, a younger wing that can shoot the lights out, defend and get to the basket, Hill seems like a great option. Signing Hill to a two to three year deal will allow Tom Thibodeau to stop playing Luol Deng so many minutes because he’ll finally have a back-up small forward that he can trust on both ends. Also, having Hill on a two or three year deal will give Chicago a viable back-up small forward as they wait for Nikola Mirotic to come over from Serbia, which is expected to be in two to three years.
Los Angeles Lakers
The only chance the Lakers have of signing a guy like Hill is if the new CBA includes an amnesty clause, allowing the Lakers to get rid of World Metta Peace AND they make a deal that involves one of their other bad contracts, such as Lamar Odom and Luke Walton for Andre Iguodala. To be quite honest, that’s not all that far fetched and if they are able to clear up the space to sign Hill, that’s a pretty decent pick-up. But its not a necessity and if the Lakers are getting Iguodala, he’d be a back-up with Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks playing the same position while on the payroll. And if the Lakers were able to muster up the cap space to sign someone like Hill, that money would be better spent on a point guard. Hill is the kind of player that Kobe Bryant would love to have on his team but he’s a luxury not a necessity.
New York Knicks
The Knicks need a back-up for Carmelo Anthony pretty badly, that is unless you think Shawne Williams is the answer. And if you haven’t taken that test yet, I’ll give you the answer: he isn’t. And the Knicks could most certainly use some players with high basketball IQs that care about playing defense. If you watched them last year, you probably know that those things aren’t their strong points. Hill with the Knicks would finally give them a competent defensive player and would give the Knicks a bench combo of Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert and Hill. It’s not great but Hill is better than Bill Walker or Roger Mason and he can shoot the three and play defense.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been without a back-up for Kevin Durant at the small forward position ever since they moved to Oklahoma City5 and one of the key pieces that folks have been saying that they need to take the next step has been a veteran presence. Hill would give the Thunder a veteran mindset, a small and solid defender and a pretty good scoring threat that could get 10 to 12 point a night while Kevin Durant rested. The Thunder could also try out some fun small ball line-ups with Hill at power forward and Durant at center with Eric Maynor, Westbrook and James Harden on the floor. It kind of reminds me of Phoenix going with Nash, Carter, Dudley, Hill and Channing Frye for a few minutes last season. Durant may not be a center but I think he could get by playing the position a few times a night. I’m sure Hill could have his greatest off the court impact on this team by providing wisdom and he could be a great mentor to Durant as he attempts to diversify his game.
I think the best fit for Hill is in Oklahoma City. They have been craving a veteran for awhile and he fills their back-up role at small forward as well. He’s really a perfect fit in that regard. I think Boston could really use him too but the Thunder don’t have many other holes to fill besides back-up small forward and Hill is the top dog on the market. Shane Battier could be a fit as well but his offensive numbers have been slipping lately and I think Hill’s overall game fits better with most of these teams than Battier’s.
1. If you want to get some kind of a handle on the situation, here are some folks that I recommend you follow: @LarryCoon, @KBerg_CBS and @Stein_Line_HQ. And, by the way, I’m writing this article with the assumption that a full 82-game season will be played in 2010-2011. Return
2. The biggest loss for us as fans: Not having a Summer League. Getting our first look at fresh talent like Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, etc. is always fun and the entire atmosphere in Las Vegas is great. If there is one NBA event that I can recommend a fan of the game attends it would be Summer League. Eight games a day played in two separate gyms that are no more than 50 feet away from each on UNLV’s campus. One moment you’re watching John Wall and JaVale McGee connect on their first alley-oops, the next you’re witnessing a dunkfest by Toronto’s “Young Gunz” DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems.
Head to the concession stand to get a drink, catch Doc Rivers walking by or Wesley Matthews hanging out with C.J. Watson. Its an awesome experience because the players are still humble and they walk the halls just like everyone else after their games. And once the games are done for the day, you have all of Vegas to explore before coming back the next day for eight more games. Return
3. I’m not a stickler for the rules but I think Mark Cuban should be fined for his tiny conversation with Jason Kidd when they were on stage together during the ESPY’s. Those charities are in need of support after Cuban spent the whole post-season in seclusion. Return
4. Ainge has done a ton of great things for the Celtics but that was one of the most questionable deals ever. It made no sense to me because Jeff Green is criminally overrated and I think Boston got that same vibe after watching him play on their team during the second half. I just hope Ainge doesn’t let pride take over and sign Jeff Green to an extension just so C’s fans don’t kill him for trading Perkins for nothing. Return
5. Care to guess who is currently listed as the second string small forward for the the Thunder? His last name is similar to that of a Sith Lord. Time’s up. Answer: Robert Vaden. Return