Though it hasn’t been the most talked-about trade during draft night, the deal that sent George Hill to Indiana and gave the Spurs Kawhi Leonard and a couple of foreign projects was exactly what both sides needed.
Hill goes back to his home state, where he played high school and college ball. He will immediately help this team, and fits in perfectly with the young core. The Spurs have more foreign players to build for the future, and they land an athletic rebounder in Leonard from San Diego State.
Hill, the 26th pick of the 2008 draft, has been golden for San Antonio in his three years, especially with the injuries to point guard Tony Parker. While starting for the Spurs in 55 games, Hill averaged 15 points and four assists per game.
Now in Indiana, he has the chance to become the starting point guard. He will have to challenge Darren Collison, which will only make them both better.
While Hill might see more time at the shooting guard position like in San Antonio, it will only help the Pacers. Indiana has had problems trying to stop guys like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Chauncey Billups just to name a few. Last year in the playoffs, they used Paul George to guard Rose, but now Hill should be able to handle that task, allowing George to play in his more comfortable role.
Larry Bird stated that he had been trying to get Hill since he came into the league, but the Spurs were not willing to trade him. Once the draft played itself out and Leonard was still on the board for Indiana to select at No. 15, the Spurs made the call. They had discussed trading Tony Parker all week, but the interest the Pacers showed in Hill was ideal for a trade.
With Bird’s love for Lance Stephenson and the addition of Hill, it looks like the end for Brandon Rush and AJ Price in Indianapolis. They will try to package them in a deal to maybe land a starting power forward before the lockout this summer. There are many options and different routes they can take, and I trust Bird’s instincts.
The core group of this team is looking better and better with each move with guys like Hill, Granger, Collison, George and Hibbert. Still though, they must add some frontcourt depth, which may involve moving one of these players.
People have asked me if I would have the same outlook on this trade had Hill not grown up in Indy. Obviously it makes it a little more exciting for fans in the area, but I still believe that Hill is enough to get this excited about because of the NBA player that he is. We are talking about a solid guard who is entering his fourth year in the league, having three years of valuable playoff experience with a championship organization.
This isn’t Josh McRoberts. It’s not JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Shelvin Mack or Mike Conley. It’s not Gordon Hayward either. Hell, it isn’t even Greg Oden. This is a player that is a proven commodity, an established, grown-up and well-rounded player that can play more than one position.
The team has to get players they know will help them, not ones that they hope can help them in the distant future. That is exactly what Hill will do for this franchise.