Hill Traded

By: AP
By: AP

Grant Hill, who fell short of expectations in six injury-marred seasons with Orlando, has decided to sign a free-agent contract with the Phoenix Suns.

The move continues an overhaul of the Magic lineup and shores up the small forward position for Phoenix.

Hill's agent, Lon Babby, said Thursday that Hill has agreed in principle to a two-year deal -- known as a bi-annual exception -- for $1.8 million this season and almost $2 million in 2008-09 at the player's option. Teams can offer $1.2 million as the mid-level exception for veterans, but can offer the bigger $1.8 million bi-annually.

The deal will not be considered official until July 11, the first day free agents are allowed to officially sign new contracts.

Hill, 34, also considered the Pistons, Heat, Mavs and Spurs but ultimately chose the Suns because of their ability to give him a meaningful role on the team and a chance at a championship.

"Obviously money wasn't the biggest factor here," Babby said. "He had offers for a lot more money. Grant wants a chance to win a championship and he wanted to go to a place that would give him a chance to contribute. Phoenix was the perfect fit."

The seven-time All-Star gives Phoenix some help at small forward after the team traded away James Jones on draft night. Hill should challenge Boris Diaw for the starting small forward role.

Despite Hill joining the team, the Suns' future remains rather murky at this point. While they have been a contender every year since Steve Nash joined the team, uncertainty remains around the roster for the 2007-08 season.

The team has been heavily involved in Kevin Garnett trade rumors this summer. In almost every scenario that has leaked, players like Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire could potentially head to other teams. It is still unclear how Hill's signing will affect the Suns' thinking about trading Marion or Stoudemire or trading for Garnett.

Suns owner Robert Sarver would like new Suns general manager Steve Kerr to trim around $10 million in payroll this summer in order to avoid paying the league's luxury tax -- another factor that might influence the team's decision-making.

Hill's decision to leave the Magic ends a long, tortured relationship with the franchise. When Hill joined the team in 2000 (along with free agent Tracy McGrady) in a sign-and-trade with Detroit, people were talking about winning championships. However, complications from ankle surgery in the summer of 2000 derailed Hill's career.

In his six seasons with the Magic, Hill played more than 30 games in a season only twice. In total, Hill played in only 200 of the 492 total regular-season games the Magic played while he was under contract for $93 million.


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