|Magic might have to continue rebuilding without Grant Hill|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 April 2007 10:24|
The next one might have to happen without seven-time All-Star Grant Hill.
The 6-foot-8 swingman is contemplating retirement after years of ankle problems that caused hundreds of missed games, numerous rehabilitation stints and lingering pain.
``For the last seven years, I've been day to day,'' Hill said Sunday, a day after Orlando's season-ending loss to the Detroit Pistons. ``I just want to get away from it and decide if I still want to do it. ... In terms of my future, I don't know. I really don't know what I'm going to do.''
Hill signed a seven-year, $93 million contract with Orlando in 2000, just a few months after surgery to repair a broken left ankle. The Magic expected him to make a full recovery and team with Tracy McGrady to give the Magic one of the best scoring tandems in the league.
Hill had four more ankle operations and played just 200 regular-season games in seven seasons with Orlando. He played 65 games this year, averaging 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists and helping the Magic advance to the postseason for the first time since 2003.
Hill was healthy for the season finale, something he failed to accomplish in the previous six years. He said that meant a lot, but added that he's not sure he wants to try to do it again.
``I've got a 45-year-old ankle and 30-year-old legs,'' said Hill, who will turn 35 in October. ``I'm a free agent in the sense that I can play (or) I can move on and do something else. I don't know what that is, what that will be or when that will be, to be honest. We'll have to wait and see.''
Hill wants to take a few months off, then make a decision about his future. If he does retire, Hill said he would probably consider working as a television analyst.
If he does return for another season, Hill said he wants it to be with Orlando.
For now, though, he just wants to rest.
``I haven't been in this situation, where you get through a season and you walk off the court the last game, all the nagging injuries, what have you,'' Hill said. ``Typically, two months after the season it's all about rehab, trying to get healthy. Once again, we're in uncharted waters. We'll see. We'll figure it all out. I really don't know what I want to do, or what to do. The main thing I want to do is give my body some rest.''
Other than Hill's status, the Magic are in pretty good shape heading into next season.
Star center Dwight Howard, guard Jameer Nelson and forward Hedo Turkoglu should be back, and the Magic believe forward Trevor Ariza and guard J.J. Redick will play more significant roles next season.
The 21-year-old Howard hopes to develop a mid-range jump shot and hone his passing skills out of double teams.
``I know there's a lot of stuff I need to work on,'' Howard said. ``I'm aware of that. That's going to come with time. I want to come back bigger, stronger, better.''
Darko Milicic, a 7-footer who played well against the Pistons, has become the first priority for the team to re-sign when free agency begins this summer.
General manager Otis Smith said he believes Howard and Milicic can become a formidable frontcourt and help the Magic take the next step of winning in the postseason.
``Having Darko as part of our franchise, playing alongside Dwight, is big for us,'' Smith said. ``I don't think we can afford to lose a young big guy.''
Smith said the team would like to add another scoring threat and become tougher.
But whether Hill retires or returns is the biggest concern now - and it could linger for several months.
``Whatever he does, I'll support him 100 percent,'' Howard said. ``He's done a lot for me. It would be good to see him continue to play in his career. He helped us take a huge step this year, making it to the playoffs. He's a big part of our team.''
As far as Smith is concerned, Hill is a part of the future, too.
``If he wants to play here, we have a spot for him,'' Smith said. ``I don't think you lose by having a Grant Hill on your roster.''