Grant Hill is a pretty darned good basketball player. But on Friday, he exercised his role as tastemaker, and declared the Phoenix Suns to be a team that matters.
It feels weighty, beyond just the basketball implications.
His offers were good ones. Any player near the end of his career would want the kind of offers Hill's agent, Lon Babby, says he received.
The Knicks offered "the world's most famous arena," a platform to launch a broadcast career and opportunities for his wife Tamia to further her professional singing career. They also offer the most fun coaching system in the NBA, as led by Mike D'Antoni for whom Hill has played before. They also offered the full mid-level exception, for nearly $6 million for one season (and the discussion, per Babby, included options to tack on another year at a lower salary).
The Celtics offered less money -- the measly $1.99 million biennial exception -- but they're the Celtics. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace ... many pick them to win the East. Grant Hill has never won a title, and is getting on in years.
The Suns? The Suns these days are like the fall of Rome. Plenty of big names, and fresh memories of the good times. But didn't they just ditch the Shaq-Daddy for spare parts and cash savings? Doesn't New York have the coach who made the Suns America's team? Didn't they ditch that playing style in the name of defense, and then not improve much on defense? Isn't everyone counting the days until Amare Stoudemire and even Steve Nash are out the door?
And yet ... Hill chose the Suns, and a one-year $3 million contract, with a player option on a second year for $3.24 million.
Given his other options, the message I take from this is: Yes, the Suns matter. Yes, a savvy veteran with a lot of insight into how the league works still believes this team can fit together in a way that matters.
"Grant felt he had unfinished business," explains Babby. "The team had placed their faith in him, and he didn't want to leave on a sour note, having missed the playoffs."
Babby says he doesn't know what Steve Nash's long-term plans are, but he does know that Hill consulted with him, and that it is important to Hill that Nash (and Stoudemire) remain in Phoenix.
For Phoenix fans eager for another chance to prove that formula of the existing Suns team can work, it's hard to imagine there could be better news.