Grant Hill on his Return to the Phoenix Suns: “You can’t go out like that. I felt like we had something to prove.”December 13, 2011 – 8:15 am by Steven Cuce
Grant Hill will be returning back to the desert after accepting a one-year deal from the Phoenix Suns. The 39-year old small forward was said to be mulling offers from multiple teams including the New York Knicks, but elected to return back to the Suns because he felt there was some unfinished business to take care of.
Hill eludes to his teammate Steve Nash as being one of the deciding factors in his decision to return to Phoenix. The seven-time All-Star, who averaged 13.2 points last season, will be going into his 17th season and fifth in a row with the Suns.
Grant Hill joined XTRA 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to discuss the rumors of signing with the New York Knicks, ultimately deciding to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns, the pace of training camp during a shortened NBA season and his feelings on Steve Nash finishing his career with the Suns.
Now there are a lot of jilted people in New York. They really felt you were going to be a member of the Knicks this time. Your thoughts?
“Well it seems like I’ve entertained or flirted with them [New York Knicks] three times throughout my career. It was an interesting process. There are people in that organization that I know and know very well. Amar’e Stoudemire. Coach D’Antoni. Even Allan Houston, who I’ve played with and known since we were in high school. It wasn’t honestly just them. There were other teams as well, but it was an interesting process. It was a successful process, but to be 39 and have gone through a number of things throughout my career – to have some really good teams and great opportunities knocking at my door – it was for the most part – it was positive.”
This must have been a tough decision knowing how much you love Phoenix, but the other options were appealing?
“Yeah. No. It was interesting. They were viable, very attractive, very interesting. Coaches that I respected – teams that theoretically I guess are – one would say closer to winning a championship than we are. You want to be thoughtful in delivery in making your decision and obviously because of everything being accelerated with the rush to get the season started that it wasn’t your normal sort of off-season in terms of weighing your options. It was interesting. At the end of the day I just…I liked my teammates. I like the coaching staff, management, ownership, and just…I don’t know. I just felt like we had something to prove. Last year was a tough year for us in a lot of ways with a lot of transition and a lot of changes personnel wise. A lot changes in the front office. A lot of reasons for no excuses, but you just feel like you want to…you can’t go out like that. You want to at least – when I came here – this franchise there was a high expectation. This franchise was about trying to compete for a championship and to leave the way things were last year it didn’t fit right. Not to say if we made the playoffs I would have left, but I felt like we had something to prove. Even my teammates, even my family, my brothers, we collectively want to go out there and do it. We have a great opportunity this year.”
What has training camp been like? Do you think your style of play can win in a shortened season?
“Training camp is never fun. I’ll be the first to say. It’s a necessary evil. I think the key to the lockout season is certainly if my memory serves me correct it’s about managing the schedule as it always is. This year this schedule is going to be a lot different. There’s going to be a lot of games and not enough time for practice. We are going to use our depth or the fact that we have a lot of good players especially with some of the new guys and really sometimes these teams that rely on one or two guys to do the bulk of the scoring in some cases backfire during this type of schedule because it’s going to be hard to maintain that level of play as an individual every game, but because we have depth we don’t necessarily have that super star except for Steve [Nash], but we are going to play hard. We are going to run. We are going to compete. We are going to play better defense this year. We are not going to concede to anybody and we are going to use our depth, so I think this year might be an unusual year in a lot of ways, but hopefully it’ll play to our advantage.”
Can we assume by you coming back that Steve Nash wants to ride this thing out and get his sunset here?
“I did talk with Steve and Steve spoke about maybe a week ago and just sort of wanting me back and supporting me and that was great. He didn’t have to do that, but I certainly appreciate it. I think look the guy has had great years. He was drafted here and had MVP like seasons in a good portion of his whole Suns career. I think in a perfect world he would like to finish up here and get this organization back to respectability. Hell even just get a championship here. I think he wants to stay. I can’t – I don’t want to read too much into him and I think a lot obviously goes into this season, but you can’t worry about the future. We just gotta worry about this two-a-day that we have tonight and just take it one game at a time. I’m hopeful. I just think he’s been so much for this franchise and so much to this community. To me he embodies what true class and professionalism is all about and I’ve really enjoyed playing with him and getting to know him and really having a friendship on-and-off the court. I don’t want to get too far down the road, but the guy could still play. He’s got a lot left in the tank. I feel like too there is a lot of great point guards in this league, but he still has an edge about him and still feels like he belongs in that conversation. I expect big things from him this year as well.”