Phoenix Suns free agent small forward Grant Hill figures to have a few teams vying for his services once the NBA lockout ends and free agent signing period commences. The team that continues to be mentioned as a frontrunner should Hill choose to leave Phoenix is the Miami Heat. Most recently, HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy said this in a chat:
I’ve been told a few times this summer that Grant Hill wants to join a contender, and that there’s mutual interest in Miami. If he’s able to win a title, that would certainly help his case for the Hall of Fame, but I think he makes it regardless.
Hill made a telling statement in July after seeing Jason Kidd, the man with whom he shared rookie of the year honors in 1995, win a ring with the Dallas Mavericks: "You definitely want to win, especially when you see somebody you are kind of linked to and somebody you have known for many years get there. I don’t have too many more years left, so we have to wait and see. But it would be nice to do what [Kidd] was able to do this past season."
Before that statement from Hill in July, it was widely assumed among the Suns fanbase that he would finish his playing career in Phoenix. Suns owner Robert Sarver has announced his desire to re-sign Hill, and Hill's family resides in the Phoenix area. In addition, Hill's injury-riddled career has been rejuvenated in Phoenix, as the Suns training staff has worked its wonders, and he has been healthy enough to play in 313 out of a possible 328 regular season games in his four seasons in Phoenix.
It's easy to see why the Heat would be interested. Hill has been a bargain in his time with the Suns, providing leadership, strong defense and efficient if unspectacular offense, at the salary of only $10M total over four seasons. Last year, Hill averaged 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.1 minutes per game, and often was asked to guard the opposing team's biggest offensive threat, players ranging from Derrick Rose to Blake Griffin.
From the Suns viewpoint, Hill is a fan favorite, team leader, provides more value than his simple stats show and, I must restate, his salary has been beyond reasonable. His low salary demands also appeal to a Heat team that has precious little cap space.
I love Grant Hill, you love Grant Hill, everybody loves Grant Hill.
And yet still, the more I think about this, the more I think it might make sense for all involved if Hill went to the Heat. Why would a 39-year old player want to play out his career on a Suns team that's going nowhere? And, given the Suns' current situation, what do they want with an old role player at the end of his career? This is especially true when you consider that the Suns have Josh Childress and his similar skillset languishing on the bench with his large salary, ready to step in.
Before anyone throws out crazy trade scenarios of what we might get from the Heat in exchange for Hill, let me say again that Hill is a free agent. The choice will be his, and if he wants to leave, the Suns will get nothing in return but a small amount of salary cap space.
I'd also like to pre-emptively kibosh comparisons to the Steve Nash situation. While Nash and Hill are co-captains, and many Suns fans see them in the same glowing terms, Nash is possibly the greatest player in Suns history (definitely in the conversation, at least). He's a Suns legend. For all his qualities, Hill is not that. He's had a Hall of Fame career, but he's merely been a solid role player with the Suns. Watching Hill walk away would not be the same as watching Nash walk away, at least not in my eyes.
Should Grant Hill decide he'd like to stay in Phoenix and try to return the Suns to relevance, I'd be happy with that. Hill remains a solid contributor, and is one of the class acts ever to play in the NBA. However, if he decides to go to a contender such as the Heat, I'd understand and wouldn't be all that upset. He doesn't owe the Suns any more than what he has given the team, and I would tip my hat, thank him for his time as a Sun, and wish him well on his way out.
What would your reaction be if Grant Hill left the Suns to sign with the Heat?