Grant Hill is quickly approaching 39 years of age, and after making just over $3 million this year to play for the Phoenix Suns, he gets to choose his next destination. Hill has contemplated retirement in his past, so his exit wouldn't shock too many people.
If Hill decides to return to the NBA, there are more than just a few teams that wouldn't mind taking a look at the veteran. If it weren't for recurring ankle injuries in the prime of his career, Hill's legacy as a whole would be entirely different. He had the potential to be one of the best the NBA has ever seen.
In his rookie season, Hill averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest. LeBron James averaged 20.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists his first year. Michael Jordan had 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists in his inaugural season.
Talk about good company.
Although Hill didn't score at quite the rate Jordan did, he was incredibly popular because of Jordan's one-year leave from the game in 1993-94. Hill led the league in All-Star voting that season, and even did so again in MJ's first year back the next season.
On the other hand, injuries kept the wear and tear on the rest of Hill's body relatively low. He's embraced the idea of becoming a role player for the Suns. Hill understands that his years of being a superstar are behind him, but also that he still has a lot to offer to the NBA.
Here are 10 teams that strike me as having the highest need for Hill's services.
The list kicks off with a team that clearly believes Hill's still got it.
In the last four years with the Suns, Hill has been a model of consistency. He's logged about 30 minutes a game and has not missed much time due to injury.
His numbers have been about the same each season, but his 13.2 points per game this season are his highest as a member of the Suns.
He's added a three-point shot to his game that he didn't possess in his time with the Detroit Pistons in the mid-90's. He's become more of a spot-up shooter than he was in the past, and his shooting stroke has improved because of that.
Whether or not the Suns keep Hill depends on the direction the team takes from here. If they deal Steve Nash or Vince Carter, they are implying that they can't win with what they have now. If they keep both players, the Suns believe they can make a run for the title.
Grant Hill fits the latter direction. If the Suns choose to try and reinvent the team, Hill will probably leave.
Hill doesn't have a NBA Championship—and I have to believe that's his primary goal.
The Miami Heat are in need of a leader outside of the "Big Three."
Regardless of how well the Heat do in this year's playoffs, there will still be an open spot for a player like Grant Hill in Miami.
He may not start for the Heat, but who better to come off the bench than a player with the experience of Hill.
There has been a slight power struggle between James and Dwyane Wade on who is the face of the franchise. Although it doesn't seem to be bothering them, it could present an issue in the playoffs.
Hill would become even more valuable if the Heat lose early in the postseason. If the Heat lose before they reach the NBA Finals, this season will be deemed a disappointment. Adding Hill is an honest effort at adding stability and experience.
Even though Hill hasn't had much playoff experience at the pro level, he had more than his fair share at Duke. He won two national championships as a Blue Devil, and was a runner up once.
Yes, Dwyane Wade has won a title in Miami, but the roster that they have right now is still unproven.
The New York Knicks are a very young team. Like the Heat, they also have minimal depth to speak of.
Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter are the only players with more than 10 years of NBA experience on the Knicks roster.
Both players were acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade that drastically thinned the boys in blue.
The Knicks came on strong at the end of the regular season, but there are still a multitude of doubts surrounding the team. Many people don't think that the trade was the right move for the team, and that Anthony doesn't mesh well with the Stoudemire.
The Knicks aren't expected to do much in the playoffs this season, but it's the next couple years that will be crucial for the team. Adding Grant Hill can begin to boost the woeful Knicks defense. New York is allowing over 105 points per contest.
Hill can step in and attempt to bring more of a focus to the defensive end of the ball. He can also provide relief for Anthony, who has no true backup.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a better team than most people give them credit for.
The Sixers have a larger rotation of players that see significant time than most NBA teams. Eight players average over 20 minutes a game. Elton Brand and Tony Battie are the only forwards in Philadelphia that could be considered veterans.
Hill's main purpose in Philadelphia would be to teach Andre Iguodala some tricks on being a "point forward."
Early in his career, Hill was the main ball-handler for the Pistons. In Philadelphia, Iguodala has started doing about the same for the Sixers to reduce turnovers. Since he's so new to the role, why not bring in a wily veteran to speed up the learning process?
If the Sixers want Iguodala to continue to learn how to run the point, adding Hill would be a spectacular start. Although his best years are behind him, Hill's game IQ has only gotten better since his days in Detroit.
The Chicago Bulls have seen firsthand what Grant Hill can still do.
In the team's first matchup with the Suns, Hill went for a team-high 27 points. He also logged 47 gritty minutes in the double overtime loss for the Suns. The Bulls, however, received only 11 minutes and zero points from their starting shooting guard Keith Bogans.
The Bulls have been criticized for being weak at the No. 2 spot, but didn't make any moves at the deadline to upgrade. Chicago could be waiting for the offseason to add a reputable shooting guard. They also have Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer on staff, but Hill is a different breed than these players.
Yes, Hill isn't listed as a guard, but the way his game has transformed makes him more versatile. He's improved his outside shot, which used to be the most gleaming weakness in his game. He's also proved that he can defend a modern guard with great footwork and tremendous discipline.
If they don't want to use him as a shooting guard, he could be a serviceable backup to Luol Deng. Deng leads the team with 39.1 minutes per game, but picking up Hill would give Deng a few extra breathers.
If the Suns decide to stick the course and Hill thinks they can't win with what they have, he could depart to Washington to try and rebuild there. This move will only happen if Hill's main goal isn't to go out on top.
Due to knee injuries to both Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis, the Washington Wizards were desperate at the small forward position for the last month of the season.
This season, Lewis was the second highest paid player in the league, which is absolutely inexcusable. His pay will be increasing in the next two seasons, which is even worse. The only positive that came out of the injuries was they allowed Jordan Crawford to see more time, which provided the Wizards a good look at their new rookie.
The Wizards had seven rookies on their roster this season, which led the NBA. The young bunch had severe trouble coming together away from home, going 3-38 on the road. The Wizards went 20-21 at home, and had the tendency to look like a completely different team.
Hill knows how to win away from home. In three deep runs in the NCAA tournament, Hill helped Duke move along regardless of the venue. The Wizards also need help stopping other teams, which Hill can provide.
Adding Hill will lead to at least 10 home wins in 2011-12.
When Caron Butler fell victim to the injury bug this season, the Dallas Mavericks started to slide. They would eventually recover, but don't have as high of an upside without Butler suiting up.
The combination of Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic is decent, but not one that instills fear into other teams. If Butler decides to leave Dallas after this year, the Mavs need to explore other options. Hill would be a very good fit in Dallas.
He is virtually a combination of Stojakovic and Marion. He can shoot the ball nearly as effectively as Stojakovic and stop the ball as Marion does. Hill is a willing passer, and wouldn't mind seeing Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry do most of the scoring.
The Mavericks always seem to play their best basketball in the regular season, and maybe Hill would be the player to get them over the hump in the postseason.
He'd bring championship experience to a franchise that has only been to the NBA Finals once, where they lost.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are another example of an inexperienced team. However, the Thunder have been winning big games with their young squad.
Oklahoma City has the winning formula and players that know how to execute. This makes them a terrifying team for the rest of the West to prepare for. After the playoffs, the Thunder need to make moves to keep the team improving going into next year.
The Thunder should start with reducing Kevin Durant's minutes per game. He was fifth in the league in minutes with almost 39 per game. It may sound crazy, but the Thunder need to already be thinking about how to extend Durant's career. You don't want to wear out your star player this early in his career.
Hill could theoretically provide 15 minutes of relief for Durant, pushing him below 35 minutes a game. If Hill is in the game with Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder will be incredibly difficult to score on.
Bringing in Hill can only have positive effects for the Thunder, and could give other teams yet another reason to fear Oklahoma City.
Luckily there's another one of those looming in free agency this offseason.
The Houston Rockets were the last team eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race. The most impressive part about their near-playoff berth was that they dealt both Battier and Aaron Brooks. Also, Yao Ming has been out all season. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola really stepped up their games to give the Rockets a realistic shot at the postseason.
If Yao comes back and Kyle Lowry continues to improve at point guard, the Rockets could be a Hill short of being a true contender in the West. Hill would make tons of sense in Houston. Houston ranks in the lower half of the league in team defense. They could use Hill's services to help slow Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
Also, Hill is the type of player who will help the players come together as a team. He can bridge the gap between Martin and Yao, who may have trouble co-existing at first because they both like to be the focal point of the offense.
The emergence of Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins shows that the Kings have the talent to perform like the team did in the glory days around the turn of the century. The Kings didn't post the best record this season, but were able to upend the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Moving toward the future will be much easier if the Kings add Hill. He will only join the Kings if his focus isn't on a NBA Championship, but more about making an impact on a player. He could really help Francisco Garcia progress as a player. Garcia has been steadily improving since in his six seasons in the league, but has yet to make a big step forward.
Hill could also do some things on the floor that will point the Kings in the right direction. This is a long-shot, but Hill's goals for the remainder of his career are unknown. If he joined the Kings, he'd probably make more than he would with the other teams on this list.
If Hill's top interest is the money, the Kings might be the way to go.
Where do you think Grant Hill will end up?