July 19, 2012 – 10:30 am
by michael imhoff
It wasn’t exactly the best of free agency periods for the Phoenix Suns. When you lose a guy like Steve Nash, obviously there’s reason to be disappointed. But the time had come and now the Suns must move on and begin the next chapter for the franchise. Out too is Grant Hill, another guy who meant much more to the Suns than just his contributions on the court. There was one positive addition though — the Suns won the amnesty claim for Luis Scola, which means the popular front court presence will head west from Houston out to Phoenix.
Alvin Gentry joined XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix to talk about the Suns free agency transactions, losing a player of Grant Hill’s caliber and professionalism, whether he thought Hill was influenced by Steve Nash’s decision to depart for the Lakers, what he thinks of Luis Scola’s game, and the Suns winning their amnesty claim for Scola.
On the Suns adding Luis Scola and losing Grant Hill in free agency:
“I’m happy. That team has put themselves in a position where they can win a NBA Championship. If you look at the talent level they had, adding Grant Hill and Lamar Odom doesn’t take anything away from their chances. I think it’s a good situation for him and at some stage, transition happens. I’ve had the opportunity to coach Grant Hill for ten years of his career and I have nothing but good things to say about it.”
On the transformation of Grant Hill from superstar to a defensive stopper as he’s aged into his 30s:
“No it doesn’t, but everybody that knows the character of Grant, knows the type of player that he is. He wanted to always be a huge factor on the floor and when some of the athleticism starts to disappear, you have to find a way to do it. He became a great defensive player for us and did a great job guarding the likes of Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and guys like that. That got themselves, not just a great, great person in the locker room, but they got a guy who still has a few good years in him to play.”
On Hill becoming a durable player later in his career:
“I think it was a little bit of both but I think he’ll tell you right away that the majority of the credit goes to our training staff. It’s an interesting thing, we got him and the first three years he was here he play 163 out of 164 games. The only time he really missed games here, he had the knee thing this year and an appendectomy. Other than that only a few games here and there for a bump or a bruise somewhere. It’s been good, he’s had a good career, we’ve helped him and obviously he helped us.”
Did you think he was leaning on coming back? Once Steve Nash left, did you think he was gone?
“Well, I don’t know. I think there is a lot of thought process that went on and at the end of the day he just thought the Clippers situation was best for him and that’s very understandable. We’re trying to transition and move forward, sign some younger players and see how we can make this thing work. This is a good situation for him, he’s with a team that has a chance to win and win big. I think it was a win win in both situations.”
On Luis Scola and his game:
“We’re really excited about him. I think what he said in the teleconference was really important. He said ‘I am who I am and I’m 32 years old and this is where my game is’ and that’s exactly what we expect from him. He’s a really solid player and a really smart player. He has great footwork in the post that gives us a guy that we can give it to in the post as well as can take a step out to the perimeter and shoot the ball. I think he brings a toughness and intensity to practice and the games. I also think he’s a great guy in the locker room. This was something that was really important to us and we are excited about having him.”
On expecting fans to gravitate towards Scola much like they did in Houston:
“I think he’s a blue collar guy and it’s the same reason all the fans will love him here in Phoenix. He’s a guy that just works so hard. You know how people are, they really appreciate hard work and he’s a guy that’s always going to give you an honest days work for an honest days pay. Fans appreciate that as do coaches.”
Tags: Alvin Gentry, Grant Hilll, NBA, NBA Free Agency, Phoenix Suns