Denton's Notebook: Wednesday, Feb. 6

By John Denton
February 6, 2013

ORLANDO – Los Angeles Clippers small forward Grant Hill, who is the NBA’s second-oldest player, said in a twisted sort of way one of the primary reasons that he’s still playing is because of the injury troubles that he had while playing for the Orlando Magic.

Hill said he’s still trying to make up for lost time during his prime years in Orlando and that’s the reason he’s still on the court at 40 years old. Hill signed a $92.88 million free-agent contract with the Magic in July of 2000, but he played just 200 of a possible 774 games over seven seasons because of ankle and hernia issues.

Hill’s troublesome left ankle allowed him to play just 47 games in his first four seasons in Orlando. Following numerous surgeries a nasty infection set in in 2003, sending him to the emergency room and knocking him of the 2003-04 season all together.

But Hill kept coming back each time and he finally got to the point where he remained injury free. He had two productive seasons in Orlando and reemerged in Phoenix as a steady contributor. And when he became a free agent last summer, he was heavily sought before eventually picking the Clippers.

``To still be out there now, still battling through injuries, it is something that is gratifying. Knowing that you didn’t give up and you kept going is satisfying,’’ Hill said. ``I’ve gotten a lot of joy and a lot of lessons learned from coming back while I was here, while I was in Phoenix and even now – the fact that I would have missed out on that if I hadn’t played is tough to swallow. Obviously I’m getting near the end and you can’t play forever – I didn’t think I’d ever play at 40, but I am playing at 40 – and I’m just trying to represent the old guys out there.’’

Hill said on Wednesday that he is leaning toward retirement at the end of the season and that he, wife Tamia, and their two daughters will live in Orlando after his basketball career is complete.

REDICK HEALING: J.J. Redick missed his second consecutive game on Wednesday night before of a sore shoulder, but the Magic shooting guard did get some good news a day before.

A MRI conducted on Redick’s shoulder showed no structural damage, something that provided a bit of peace of mind to the Magic guard. Redick worked out on his own after the Magic’s practice session on Wednesday morning and he hopes to be in a position to where he can practice on Thursday and play Friday night in Cleveland.

The same goes for Arron Afflalo, who missed his sixth consecutive game on Wednesday because of a strained left calf muscle. Like Redick, Afflalo hopes to possibly play Friday in Cleveland.

``J.J. got some good news. The MRI (showed) no structural damage and so he’ll be day-to-day. But that was great news going forward,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``Arron will meet us in Cleveland and he’ll be ready to rock-and-roll.’’

ETC: Magic center Nikola Vucevic will find out on Thursday night his teammates for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. The two teams, composed of first and second-year players, will be ``drafted’’ by TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Vucevic, who is the NBA’s only second-year player averaging a double-double, has gotten a chance to meet O’Neal a couple of times through the years. He broke O’Neal’s Magic franchise record for rebounds in a game with 29 earlier in the season against the Miami Heat. Said Vucevic: ``I got to watch Shaq more because he was playing more (on television) when I was growing up. I did meet Shaq at USC when he was shooting a commercial. He introduced himself to me as Shaquille O’Neal-a-vich. We just shook hands. And when we played in L.A. against the Clippers, he said ``hi’’ to me.’’ … Vaughn has continued to be impressed with the steady development of rookie small forward Maurice Harkless, who twice set career-highs in scoring last week on the Magic’s five-game road trip. Said Vaughn: ``Throughout the process we wanted to see this from Mo, hopefully at this stage of the year. Each rookie is different. How are they are going to respond to (playing) time? How are they going to respond to not playing? But the whole notion with Mo’s minutes throughout the year was to get him in a position to see success. The game has slowed down for him now and he can use his abilities and instincts. For me, that’s great to see.’’ … Still recovering from a five-game, nine-day road trip, the Magic will be back on the road on Thursday night when they travel to Cleveland. Orlando faces the Cavs Friday at 7:30 p.m.

ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Busy Days Ahead for Hennigan | Vucevic Earns Spot in Rising Stars Challenge

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