O R L A N D O, Fla., Dec. 28, 2000 -- After spending most of the past two monthswondering when he would play again, Grant Hill finally has ananswer. He’s gone for the season.
Hill will have season-ending surgery on his ankle, a devastatingblow to the Orlando Magic, who signed the five-time All-Star andyoung 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 theproblem, and we’re going to get this thing right. I’m going to beback out there playing next season,” Hill said Wednesday.
The Magic’s team physician said Hill should make a fullrecovery.
“We’re very confident that he will heal completely and get backto 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 besidelined for 6-to-8 months, general manager John Gabriel said.
“Our focus is to put Grant Hill in the best possible positionto return as the player that we all know he is,” Gabriel said.“We have great confidence in the outcome and wish Grant a speedyrecovery.”
The 6-foot-8 forward was originally injured at the end of lastseason. He had surgery April 28 to repair a broken bone in his leftankle. 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 andthird in the Atlantic Division. He averaged 13.8 points, 6.3rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.25 steals in 33.3 minutes.
Hill was acquired by Orlando on Aug. 3 in a sign-and-trade dealwith 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 theteam.”
In the next surgery, the plate and five screws will be removed,Billings said. A bone graft from his pelvis will be done, and newscrews will be reinserted, most likely next week.
Only 5 percent of patients need a second operation, Billingssaid. Hill had continued to complain of pain, and doctors wereconcerned 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 hisprogress,” Billings said. “At this point, he should be furtheralong than what he was right now.”
One of the Highest-Paid Players
Hill is one of the NBA’s highest-paid players, with aseven-year, $94 million contract with the Magic.
“We are very disappointed by this development, but the ultimategoal is to get Grant Hill healthy and back in uniform,” Magiccoach Doc Rivers said.
Hill was the third player chosen in the 1994 NBA draft, selectedby the Pistons from Duke, where he was an All-American. For hiscareer, he has averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
Hill started five straight NBA All-Star Games and led the fanvoting in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, he won the IBM Award, whichmeasures a player’s overall contributions to his team. He sharedthe NBA Rookie of the Year award in 1995 with Jason Kidd.