Homecoming for Hill
June 23, 2011
He wanted to add scoring punch and take a step toward building one of the best second units in the NBA.
With one stunning draft-night deal, Larry Bird accomplished both.
The Pacers acquired George Hill, a product of Broad Ripple High and IUPUI by dealing No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard, the No. 42 pick in the second round (used on 6-10 Davis Bertans, an 18-year-old forward from Latvia) and the rights to 2005 second-round pick Erazem Lorbek to San Antonio on Thursday night.
The 25-year-old Hill has averaged 9.9 points in three NBA seasons including a career-high of 12.4 in 2009-10.
"We're very pleased to get a player that's got some NBA experience like George does," Bird said. "We've been after him for awhile and San Antonio always told us they didn't have any interest in trading him. Today I guess they thought it was the right time. They waited to see who was there at 15 and they were on the line, they made the call and we got it done."
The Pacers were the beneficiaries of some surprising moves that allowed Leonard -- a projected top-10 pick -- to slip into their hands, giving them the commodity the Spurs prized.
The first shocker came when Cleveland selected Texas forward Tristan Thompson at No. 4 overall.
A three-team trade involving Sacramento, Milwaukee and Charlotte scrambled the top-10 priorities as well, with the Bobcats moving up to the No. 7 pick and reaching for big man Bismack Biyombo of the Congo. The Kings, who obtained the No. 10 pick from the Bucks in the deal, selected Jimmer Fredette of BYU.
When both of Kansas' Morris twins were taken with the two picks immediately in front of the Pacers -- Markieff going No. 13 to Phoenix, Marcus going No. 14 to Houston -- Leonard was on the board and the Pacers capitalized.
"That was our deal, no question about it," Bird said. "If we could do that deal we would've taken him over just about any young player in this draft at No. 15. He's been in some big games and he'll help our kids along. We're a better team tonight than we were yesterday."
Hill led IUPUI to a school-record 26 victories his senior season, averaging 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 rebounds as a senior. The Spurs drafted him No. 26 overall in 2008.
"It’s tough but at the same time things happen for a reason," Hill said in a statement released by the Pacers. "My hat is off to San Antonio for the opportunity I had here and I'm really looking forward to coming home to Indiana and helping the Pacers win games."
This was the fourth draft-night trade in Bird's four years at the helm.
He made two trades in his first draft in 2008, acquiring Roy Hibbert and T.J. Ford in a package deal that sent Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto. He also dealt top pick Jerryd Bayless in a package to Portland for Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts and Jarrett Jack.
In 2010, he engineered a swap of second-round picks with Oklahoma City that landed Magnum Rolle in exchange for Ryan Reid.
Lorbek, 27, has been playing in Europe since being drafted by the Pacers, averaging 8.4 points and 3.6 rebounds for Regal Barcelona last season.