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News » 'Failing' season motivates Hill's return to Suns

'Failing' season motivates Hill's return to Suns

'Failing' season motivates Hill's return to Suns
After playing 82 regular-season NBA games for the first time, Grant Hill was in demand this summer, even at 36. He might have played on the NBA's marquee stage, at Madison Square Garden, for the New York Knicks. He could have joined the Boston Celtics. Or perhaps five other teams.

Instead, like teammate Steve Nash, Hill elected to stay with the Phoenix Suns to complete what he says is unfinished business. The Suns failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time in five years despite going 46-36.

"Even though we won 46 games, there was a feeling of failing," said Hill, who averaged 12.0 points and 4.9 rebounds. "That's the first time that core of guys (including Nash and forward Amar'e Stoudemire) had gone through that in a while. ... I don't think people are expecting a whole lot from us this season. That's a good situation to be in. I'm not going to say we're going to do this or that. But, as players, we're going to erase the bad taste from last season."

The Suns will move forward without center Shaquille O'Neal, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With lumbering O'Neal gone, the Suns plan to return to the fast-paced style coach Alvin Gentry favors and that suits Hill, Nash and Stoudemire.

Gentry's return also was a factor for Hill, who likes the people in the organization and appreciates the medical staff. Hill had not played in 80 games since 1997-98. He said he and the staff "really found a nice plan to attack the season. That's always a concern."

Hill averaged 29.8 minutes, on par with what he has averaged since missing 2003-04 with ankle injuries. His newfound durability made him attractive to several teams, and he narrowed the choices to Boston, New York and Phoenix.

"The most telling thing is that all three teams were coached by men for whom Grant had previously played," said Hill's agent, Lon Babby. "They all wanted him back."

Hill played for Gentry last season and with the Detroit Pistons from 1998 to 2000. Hill played for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix (2007-08) and Boston coach Doc Rivers with the Orlando Magic (2000-03).

The Denver Nuggets, Hill said, were also seriously in the mix for the upcoming season. So who was No. 2? "I'll say the politically correct thing: They all were No. 2."

Babby did recommend that Hill sign his deal for one year plus an option for a second, "in case something unexpected happened with the team." One of those possibilities was Nash -- the league MVP in 2004-05 and 2005-06 -- bolting from Phoenix. But last Monday he agreed to a two-year extension worth more than $22 million.

Nash, 35, had one year left on his contract that would pay him $13 million next season. He's now under contract through 2011-12.

"I consider Steve a good friend," Hill said. "He's one of the reasons why I initially went to Phoenix."

Before Nash's decision, Hill said the two talked a lot during the last few weeks. Nash "never made any promises. He didn't really try to recruit me or anything like that. As a friend, he just sort of bounced things off me."

Hill isn't sure, exactly, what he'll do when his Basketball career is done.

"I can do a number of different things -- and maybe all of them," he said. "Broadcasting, dabbling in business, maybe at some point ... a political career of some sort. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area, politics has always interested me. Life is short, you want to do as much as you can. And I'm a little bit behind the curve, because I've been running after a ball for the last 15 years."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: July 28, 2009


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