O R L A N D O, Fla., Dec. 28, 2000 -- After spending most of the past two months wondering when he would play again, Grant Hill finally has an answer. He’s gone for the season.
Hill will have season-ending surgery on his ankle, a devastating blow to the Orlando Magic, who signed the five-time All-Star and young star Tracy McGrady in a bid to win an NBA title.
“I feel good in that at least we’re getting to the root of the problem, and we’re going to get this thing right. I’m going to be back out there playing next season,” Hill said Wednesday.
The Magic’s team physician said Hill should make a full recovery.
“We’re very confident that he will heal completely and get back to playing the way he was playing before,” Dr. Joe Billings said.
Sustained Injury Last Season
Hill, acquired from Detroit in the offseason, is expected to be sidelined for 6-to-8 months, general manager John Gabriel said.
“Our focus is to put Grant Hill in the best possible position to return as the player that we all know he is,” Gabriel said. “We have great confidence in the outcome and wish Grant a speedy recovery.”
The 6-foot-8 forward was originally injured at the end of last season. He had surgery April 28 to repair a broken bone in his left ankle. Five screws and a plate were inserted.
“You don’t ever really want to have surgery unless you have to, and I guess in this case I do,” Hill said.
He appeared in only four games for the Magic, who are 12-16 and third in the Atlantic Division. He averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.25 steals in 33.3 minutes.
Hill was acquired by Orlando on Aug. 3 in a sign-and-trade deal with the Pistons for Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace.
Injury Became a Distraction
Hill, whose ankle injury forced him to miss the Sydney Olympics, said his injury created uncertainty for his teammates.
“Can he go? Can he not go?” he said. “Is he injured? Can he practice? What’s the deal? It just kind of became a distraction, and that’s the last thing I want to become, a distraction to the team.”
In the next surgery, the plate and five screws will be removed, Billings said. A bone graft from his pelvis will be done, and new screws will be reinserted, most likely next week.
Only 5 percent of patients need a second operation, Billings said. Hill had continued to complain of pain, and doctors were concerned that the ankle was only 20 percent to 30 percent healed, he said.
“The new set of X-rays showed that we weren’t happy with his progress,” Billings said. “At this point, he should be further along than what he was right now.”
One of the Highest-Paid Players
Hill is one of the NBA’s highest-paid players, with a seven-year, $94 million contract with the Magic.
“We are very disappointed by this development, but the ultimate goal is to get Grant Hill healthy and back in uniform,” Magic coach Doc Rivers said.
Hill was the third player chosen in the 1994 NBA draft, selected by the Pistons from Duke, where he was an All-American. For his career, he has averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
Hill started five straight NBA All-Star Games and led the fan voting in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, he won the IBM Award, which measures a player’s overall contributions to his team. He shared the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 1995 with Jason Kidd.