INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Pacers gave George Hill a choice after acquiring him at the trade deadline. Do you want to stay or would you rather be waived to go to a contending team?
“We really wanted to respect his wishes,” Kevin Pritchard said. “… He immediately said, ‘I want to come back and be a part of this.’ … He’s got some valuable insights into the game and I think he takes a lot of pride in what he did here.”
Hill told reporters after the game that he hopes to retire with the Pacers, doesn’t want to just be a rental for the rest of this season, and said it was “almost like a dream come true” to get this opportunity to finish his career here.
“This is the place I always wanted to be. I never wanted to leave when I got traded out of here,” Hill said. “To be able to come back with a guy that you’re already familiar with in the locker room plus Jordan [Nwora] coming in. I just think it’s a great opportunity, a great situation, and it’s close to family and friends in a city that I love.”
Hill was traded in a point-guard shuffle that sent fellow Indianapolis-native Jeff Teague to the Pacers after the 2015-16 season and Hill to the Utah Jazz. There is still one Pacers player on the roster from Hill’s last season with the team: Myles Turner.
“Just his maturity. I think he’s turned into a great leader, a great vocal guy in the locker room and in the huddle,” Hill said of what’s different about Turner now. “It’s good to see when he was a baby when we were here full circle now where he’s one of the older guys in the locker room. He’s got the younger guys listening to him like he was listening to us back then. I’m very excited that he’s still here.”
Hill, who will wear number seven in this stint with the team, was on the Pacers roster for five seasons including the Eastern Conference Finals groups that battled with the Miami Heat. Since then he’s been on six teams including two separate stints with the Bucks and a finals appearance with the Cavaliers. He’s now looking forward to the role of veteran mentor.
“I’ve been at the high and the low and in the middle. I’ve been around the block a couple times but I think we have a great, young core here that still has so much to learn and is so much fun to be around,” Hill said. “Looking forward to it and looking forward to getting to it with these guys in practice and teaching them all the things that I can teach them and being out there with them. It takes time. We’re going to continue to learn and get better each and every day.”
Hill, who played at Broad Ripple High School and IUPUI, is in his 15th NBA season. He’s averaged 10.5 points in his 904 career games while shooting 37.9% from 3.