Grant Hill Seeks Multi-Year Contract Next Summer With Phoenix
Shaquille O'Neal got one last summer. Grant Hill wouldn't mind being next.
In an interview with FanHouse before Sunday night's game at Denver, the Phoenix forward said he's hopeful of re-signing with the Suns when he becomes a free agent next summer.
"Yeah,'' Hill said. "I like it here. It's a business but I do like it here. I like the team and the situation. It's a little different losing Amar'e (Stoudemire, who left for New York last summer after being a free agent). But I like the potential of this unit. So, yeah, in a perfect world, I'd like to stay here.''
Making matters even better would be getting a multi-year contract, not exactly typical in NBA history for a 38-year-old. O'Neal did receive a two-year deal at 38 last summer from Boston.
If Hill, born Oct. 5, 1972, gets one next summer from the Suns, he actually would be 39 when he plays his first game under a new contract. But Hill told FanHouse last May he wants to play until he's 40, and he reiterated that earlier this month.
"I feel good,'' Hill said after being asked about the possibly of getting a multi-year deal from the Suns next summer. "What the rules will be (under a new collective bargaining agreement next summer are uncertain). They might have some sort of rule for guys over 38. But who knows? Yeah, I want to play as long as possible. So I'd like to be compensated fairly. I think everyone feels that way. Hopefully, things will work out and I'll be able to do that.''
When asked if that means hopefully getting a multi-year contract, Hill said, "Yeah.'' He then joked, "I'm looking for the max.''
Hill, making $3.24 million in the final year of his contract, is doing nothing so far this season for anybody to believe he doesn't have several seasons left. He's averaging 13.9 points, on pace to be the most in his four Phoenix seasons, and is shooting 53.2 percent, which would be a career best.
"That's great for us,'' Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Hill wanting to re-sign with Phoenix. "He's playing as well for us as he has.''
And to think Hill's career was in serious jeopardy of ending prematurely in the early part of the last decade when he had serious injury problems with his left ankle. Hill played in just 57 of a possible 328 games with Orlando between 2000 and 2004.
But Hill, who has missed just one game for the Suns the past three seasons, never stopped believing he would make it back. That's one reason why Hill, the NBA's third-oldest player behind O'Neal and Chicago's Kurt Thomas, wants to play until he's 40.
"I'll make up for it on the back end,'' Hill said of what he thought when he was missing all those games for the Magic. "So that was something that kept motivating me. Not just when I come back, but I'm going to come back and play long. I'm going to play longer than I would have played (had he not suffered the injuries). I don't know if I totally believed that, but that was sort of that thing that kept me going. So you got to kind of think crazy.''
Considering his gallant comeback from constant injuries, Hill has expressed a willingness to help players having had similar career-threatening situations. He left messages for Houston center Yao Ming and Portland center Greg Oden last season, inviting either to call, although he has not heard from either.
Yao has returned this season from a foot injury that cost him all of last season. Hill said the offer to talk still holds for Oden, who recently was lost for the season with yet another knee injury.
"You got to have faith,'' said Hill, when asked what advice he would give Oden, who will have missed 246 of his first 328 NBA games at season's end. "You got to believe. But I think you also have got to try to be proactive. I think after my third stint (with an ankle injury), I kind of took ownership of my (situation). I started not just putting all my trust and faith in team doctors, but going to get answers and searching the country for specialists and seeking opinions on my own. And I think that was the turning point of the process.
"You learn first of all that doctors, when they say they're practicing medicine, they're practicing medicine. It's not an exact science. And so I think I just looked for answers and I got them ... And then the mental part. I think it's just as hard mentally and emotionally as it is physically. You can't quit. You can't lose the fight. Once you lose the fight, you might resume your career but you're just kind of going through the motions.''
Hill did anything but do that following his return. He made his seventh All-Star Game in 2004-05. Now, he's wouldn't mind a multi-year contract taking him into his 40s.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson