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Tuesday, December 18
Updated: December 20, 5:52 AM ET
Hill needs season-ending surgery

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The season is over for Grant Hill, who needs surgery -- again -- on his troublesome left ankle.

Grant Hill

Hill, a six-time All Star who joined the Orlando Magic two seasons ago, played only 14 games this year and has been in medical limbo for the past 12 games. A year ago, he played in just four games before undergoing ankle surgery.

"I'm disappointed for the fans and my teammates," the 29-year-old Hill said in a statement Tuesday. "Hopefully, this will lead me down the road to recovery. I will continue to remain optimistic as I face this latest challenge."

The Magic signed Hill to a seven-year, $93 million contract in August 2000, hoping he and another high-priced acquisition, Tracy McGrady, could return them to prominence.

But since joining Orlando, Hill -- billed as one of the NBA's best and brightest during his six years in Detroit -- has missed 90 of the team's 118 regular-season games.

This season, Hill averaged 16.8 points, 4.6 assists -- both career-worsts -- and 8.9 rebounds.

The Magic have struggled as well. The team barely recovered from a slow start last year to make the playoffs, losing in the first round. And this season, Orlando has a 12-14 record.

"We all feel badly, as Grant was a big part of our plans this season," Orlando general manager John Gabriel said. "What's more important, however, is to improve the overall health of Grant's ankle joint and allow him to return."

The Magic got another dose of bad news Wednesday when they learned McGrady will miss tonight's game against Utah, the Sentinel reported. McGrady, the league's fifth-leading scorer with 26 points per game, strained his back during a loss at Seattle on Sunday night.

McGrady was in Atlanta on Wednesday for additional tests.

Meanwhile, Magic team physician Dr. Joe Billings said Hill could be resume physical activity by next summer.

Myerson, who performed bone-graft surgery on the ankle in January, also will check and reinforce the site of the original stress fracture.

Hill first injured his ankle late in the 1999-2000 season while with the Pistons. Despite offseason surgery, the Magic thought he was a worthwhile gamble and signed him to the maximum possible free-agent deal.

"We were very confident, we liked the X-rays that we saw, he was on schedule to fully recover," Gabriel said. "(The surgery) just did not take at the end."

Myerson will remove the spur, which measures about 2-3 millimeters, and small holes will be drilled in the bone where the original stress fracture took place. Those holes will then be filled with a protein that will reinforce the bone and quicken the healing process.

"It looks like this bone spur is causing stress to his fracture site," Billings said. "The question is, do you just take care of the spur or do you actually look at the fracture site?"

"The doctors are confident that this procedure will address the underlying cause of Grant's ankle problem and give him the best chance to get healthy," Gabriel said.

Gabriel said he hoped the team would rise to the challenge of winning without Hill, like it did last year.

A week after Hill's second surgery, the Magic's record stood at 14-20, a season-worst six games under .500. However, Orlando rallied to finish the season 29-19 and earned the seventh seed in the playoffs.

"This team is better for being together another year, and we feel like they'll respond just fine," Gabriel said.

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 Wear and tear
Orlando GM John Gabriel says that Grant Hill has a lot of good years left in him.
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Magic GM John Gabriel details Grant Hill's injury and the medical attention needed.
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John Gabriel discusses Orlando's approach for the remainder of the season without the services of Grant Hill.
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Magic Sr. Executive VP Pat Williams answers the notion of Grant Hill being "damaged goods" from Detroit.
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