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David Aldridge

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Loyalty to Suns keeps Hill in Phoenix

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst
Posted Jul 10 2009 7:25PM

Spurning offers from the Knicks and Celtics, free agent forward Grant Hill decided on Friday to remain with the Phoenix Suns, agreeing to a two-year deal worth $6.24 million, according to his agent, Lon Babby. The second year of the deal is an option year for Hill.

The 36-year-old was wooed strongly by New York, whose coach, Mike D'Antoni, was Hill's old coach in Phoenix, and for whom Hill enjoyed playing in 2007-08. The Knicks offered Hill either a one-year deal at the full mid-level exception ($5.8 million for next season), or a three-year, $10 million deal. Playing in New York would also provide opportunities off the court for Hill, who will have his pick of post-playing careers.

The Celtics also came hard after Hill, who met with Boston head coach Doc Rivers in Orlando and spoke on the phone with general manager Danny Ainge and guard Ray Allen. Boston hoped Hill would want to play for a championship contending team as a role player that likely would have backed up Paul Pierce. It was, Babby said, a very difficult decision for Hill, who took several days before making up his mind, with the opportunity to play for three coaches he had already played for and with whom had strong relationships.

"I will say this. He thought long and hard about the alternatives. He did not come to this decision easily or lightly," Babby said. "The places had a lot to offer and very different things to offer and that's what made it challenging for us to work our way through this."

But in the end, Hill decided he wanted to be loyal to the team that signed him after his career was derailed by seasons-long injuries while he was with the Orlando Magic. He played in all 82 games in Phoenix last season for the first time in his career, averaging 12 points and 4.9 rebounds in almost 30 minutes per game. He'll provide veteran leadership on a Suns team that is transitioning after trading Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland, and looking hard at moving forward Amar'e Stoudemire, if not now, than by next February's trade deadline.

"This was not a failure on the part of any other teams to do anything," Babby said in a conference call with reporters. "Each of the teams made as strong a presentation as they could have....in Boston's case and New York's case, there was not anything we asked for that they did not do."

The Knicks, who also were turned down by Dallas guard Jason Kidd when he decided to re-sign with the Mavericks, may now turn their attention to free agent point guard Andre Miller, who is far apart in talks with his current team, the 76ers, on a contract extension. The Suns are also trying to sign Portland forward Channing Frye to add to their frontcourt depth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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