Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill is a free agent, and Steve Nash says he will… (Credit: Robert Gauthier…)
This is the fifth in a series of profiles focusing on this year's free-agent class.
Player: Grant Hill
Former team: Phoenix Suns
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: The Lakers don't care that Steve Nash is old. He's still good. The same applies to Hill, even at 39. Hill has made plenty of moves in recent seasons to stay relevant. In the last five seasons with Phoenix, Hill averaged 12.07 points and appeared in 362 of 394 games. Hill has earned Bryant's respect for routinely guarding wing and perimeter scorers with mostly success. Hill consistently generates points by making sharp cuts in transition (making 66.7% of attempts) and penetrating from off-ball screens into the lane (shooting 55.9%).
The ankle and hernia injuries that sidelined him for significant time in four seasons with Orlando are no longer issues. Hill underwent successful surgery on his right knee last season and reportedly underwent a similar platelet enrichment procedure on his knee that Bryant had last summer.
Hill simply gets everything out of his aging body. For a team in dire need of more leadership, Hill fits that bill. He'd become either a good candidate to come off the bench behind World Peace. Or better yet, the Lakers could view this as an opportunity to waive World Peace through the amnesty provision. Meanwhile, Hill would provide valuable mentoring for Devin Ebanks, who hopes to sign multi-year deal with the Lakers. Add in Nash's familiarity with Hill's on-court tendencies, and it's likely the pair would significantly bolster the Lakers' offense.
Negatives: It's understandable for the Lakers to add Nash despite his age. But to add another aging veteran is questionable. It's far too much of a gamble to give Hill a starting spot because of his injury history. It also doesn't make sense for the Lakers to sign him when they have a capable reserve in Ebanks, who has plenty of potential and comes with an inexpensive price tag. Hill also missed 17 games toward the end of last season because of knee surgery. The Lakers can't afford for something like that to happen just as they enter the playoffs.
Verdict: Nash appeared on ESPN radio on Thursday morning endorsing his former teammate.
"I’ll do anything I can, if the Lakers are open to that, to make it a reality because he makes every team better, he makes everyone around him better and he makes any organization better,” Nash said. “So he’s a class act and still a heck of a competitor and player."
By all means the Lakers should use Nash's possible influence to their advantage in possibly convincing Hill to accept the mini mid-level exception worth $3 million. Even if there's some risk involved, Hill's presence would be much more valuable than World Peace's. By signing Hill, the Lakers can shed costs by waiving World Peace, maintaining its experience in the starting lineup and allow young talent in Ebanks to further develop.
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