NBA FREE AGENCY: GEORGE HILL
George Hill is coming off his best season offensively after one year with the Utah Jazz. With the salary cap rising, he could be looking at a bigger payday than the Jazz are willing to spend on him, especially given his injury history. Hill only appeared in 49 games this season. Last year he played in 74 games with the Pacers. The year before that he played in just 43 games. He has never played a full 82 games in his career. However, a team with salary space might be willing to take the risk given Hill’s ability to play on both sides of the floor.
Strengths: solid scorer, shot 40% from three during the last two seasons, solid defender, low turnover rate.
Weaknesses: injury-prone, doesn’t get a lot of assists/playmaking ability, age (31 years old).
Possible free agency destinations:
The Magic should have cap space to go after a player like Hill and might be dumb enough to give him big money despite his injury history. It doesn’t seem like the Magic are too set on Elfrid Payton as their point guard of the future, so maybe they look to cut back his role in favor of Hill. If needed, Hill could probably be used as a 2-guard in certain small-ball lineups. Hill is also considerably better at 3-point shooting than Payton which could help space the floor.
If the Pistons can find a team to take Reggie Jackson, Hill might be a target to replace him. However, this is not only dependent on moving Reggie Jackson, but on whether the Pistons are looking to clean house completely by also moving Drummond and letting Kaldwell-Pope leave in free agency. A 31 year old Hill would not be the best choice for a rebuilding team, unless they just want to sign him as an interim starter while they tank for picks. Some guys on the Pistons would have to be moved regardless, in order to sign Hill, as the team currently has no cap space to sign free agents.
If the Pacers chose to move on from Jeff Teague after his one year on the team, they might look to bring Hill back. Hill was traded to Utah in the deal that brought Teague to the Pacers, yet Hill arguably had a better stint as the team’s point guard during his five seasons with the team.
San Antonio Spurs
Hill was drafted by the Spurs and spent the first three years of his career on the team before being traded to Indy for the draft pick that became some robot named Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs have much higher profile free agent targets at point guard in guys like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry, but if both of those guys re-sign with their current teams or sign elsewhere, Hill could potentially make a return to the Spurs. He has familiarity with the team and played three of his healthiest seasons while there (77, 78, and 76 games). Granted, this was during the beginning of his career, but Pop did help guys like Timmy D, Parker, and Ginobli have very long and productive careers.
Aside form the Spurs, I don’t think Hill’s realistic free agency destinations will be very optimistic. He is not the super skilled passer that teams are looking for. His age and injury history will also greatly limit his possibilities. He will also be looking to get a pretty decent payday which might be another turnoff for teams not wanting to invest in him. While I think he is a very solid player, he just won’t have tons of opportunity to land with a good team given the importance of the position he plays and the amount of good point guards already in the league.