Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Pistons' Hill can be forgiven for shopping around

This column will be easy to write.

It's about Grant Hill, the Detroit Pistons' best player, and why he should consider playing for another team when his contract runs out after this season.

Hill's name is synonomous with the Pistons' recent success.

During a 4-1 road trip, Hill averaged 27.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists playing 37.3 minutes per game. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a win at Seattle, and he scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter of a come-from-behind win at Portland.

Prior to the West Coast trip, the Pistons had lost 11 consecutive road games. They remain in the playoff chase with 11 games left in the regular season.

Hill is playing the best offensive basketball of his pro career, averaging 26.3 points. Only Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson have higher scoring averages.

Individually, Hill will always be great. He's among the top 10 players in the league.

He's also working under his fourth coach in six years. If interim coach George Irvine doesn't return next season, it'll be five coaches in seven years for Hill.

Why should Hill consider playing for another team? Well, he's not going to play forever. As a soon-to-be free agent, Hill has a rare window of opportunity to choose where he wants to play.

Hill said he wants to play for a winner. He's still waiting to win his first playoff series, much less his first NBA championship.

The Pistons don't deserve Grant Hill. Gary Grant, perhaps.

Collectively, the Pistons are your garden-variety NBA team. Sans Hill, they're nothing special. Certainly not the playoff club they become with Hill in the lineup.

Pop quiz: What's the difference between the Pistons, Milwaukee, Orlando, Boston and Cleveland?

Answer: Grant Hill.

There's a fine line between good, bad and ugly NBA teams.

If the Pistons lose Hill, they will cross that line and move next door to the Los Angeles Clippers.

In response to Hill's departure, Detroit's astute front office will dedicate a night to retire the jersey of former Bad Boy Scott Hastings. In case you missed it, the Pistons are to retired jerseys what new Detroit Tigers outfielder Juan Gonzalez is to former wives.

Hill is a politically-correct team leader. He's does straight shooting on the court and straight talking in the locker room. What little he does reveal about returning to the Pistons is that's he's leaving his options open.

Hill's unwillingness to commit to the future should be unsettling to Pistons fans.

He's watching the Pistons' front office, just as we are. He's waiting for them to trip, stumble, and fall one more time, making his decision to leave town that much easier.

The Pistons lucked into Hill as the No. 3 pick in the 1994 draft. With Glenn Robinson and Jason Kidd already off the board and Donyell Marshall waiting in the wings, Hill was the logical choice.

Since Hill's arrival the Pistons have also drafted Lindsey Hunter, Allan Houston, Theo Ratliff, Bonzi Wells, Jerome Williams and Scot Pollard. They'll all making valuable contributions but only Hunter and Wiliams are still in Detroit.

Jerry Stackhouse was acquired in a trade for Ratliff, in an uneven exchange of scoring for defense.

Bison Dele decided he'd rather travel the world than play center for the Pistons, forfeiting millions of dollars and leaving Terry Mills as the team's starting center, for goodness sakes.

If it sounds like I'm picking on the Pistons, so be it. In six years they've failed to surround one of the top players in the game with complementary talent.

Enough, already.

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