The news that Grant Hill was signing a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers was likely a surprise to many Phoenix Suns fans. The team is going miss all the little things he has done over the past five years. Suns head coach Alvin Gentry was asked about Hill's departure and the effect it will have on the team on Tuesday afternoon on a conference call with the media.
"Grant's been great," said Gentry. "He's been great on the court. He's been great from a defensive standpoint and obviously he's been great in the locker room."
There is no doubt that Hill meant a lot to the team. He and Steve Nash were the faces of the franchise. Now both are gone and the team has several holes to fill because of their departures.
"He's a tremendous player," said Gentry. "Obviously it's a void that's really tough to fill, but this happens on every team. At one stage, Larry Bird wasn't there and Magic Johnson wasn't there, Michael Jordan wasn't there."
Gentry talked about how other guys have to "step up, not just from a basketball standpoint on the court, but from a leadership standpoint." He called it "a great opportunity for other guys to step up and show their leadership."
Who does he envision and expect to do that stepping up? He mentioned Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic by name.
Can they do it? The table is set. For Dragic in particular it will very important that he become a leader, as he will be handling point guard duties. He will need to be the one to take hold of the team and lead on the court at least. Off the court, there will be lots of guys -- Dudley, Gortat, Dragic and now Luis Scola.
As with trying to transition from great, respected players or people in any setting, you find that you cannot replace them, you can only find someone to take their place.
Nash and Hill are and have been truly special players and people. The Suns will likely not fully replace them, but there are definitely guys that can be leaders. And now, more than ever, Phoenix needs that.
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