Hill is Ainge’s new target
Rivers, contender status could woo him to Boston
ORLANDO, Fla. - President of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed that Phoenix free agent Grant Hill is on the Celtics’ wish list.
“We have interest in him,’’ said Ainge, who could offer Hill a $1.9 biannual-exception contract.
Hill met yesterday with the Knicks, a team that could offer him considerably more than the Celtics.
The Knicks were turned down by Jason Kidd - he verbally committed to return to the Mavericks yesterday - and now New York can offer Hill a portion of their mid-level exception.
The Celtics offer Hill a chance to play for Rivers, his former coach in Orlando, and the chance to play on a championship contender.
Hill, 36, played all 82 games for the first time in his career last season, and averaged 12 points and 2.3 assists.
“We’ll see,’’ Rondo said before the Celtics smoked Utah, 87-56, in a Summer Pro League game last night. “It’s early. [Wallace is] a proven player and it gives us more depth.’’
Rondo noted improvement in some of the Celtics’ main rivals.
“I mean, everybody else is [improving],’’ he said. “Cleveland is. LA’s improved - they won the championship and they tried to improve. Even Orlando improved . . . I don’t know if they’ve improved, but they went out and got Vince Carter.’’
Wallace told the Celtics Sunday he would accept their mid-level exception offer (worth $5.6 million to $5.8 million annually), three days after he was visited by Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, coach Doc Rivers, Ainge, and owner Wyc Grousbeck. Wallace had planned meetings with Orlando and San Antonio, then canceled them.
“The question has been asked, why he didn’t follow through with the other meetings,’’ said Bill Strickland, Wallace’s agent. “I really feel he assessed his skills and how they fit in best with Boston. He didn’t want to take a lot of time. Rasheed and Kevin Garnett are kindred spirits and he respects KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. And Boston is right there [in championship contention].’’
Magic general manager Otis Smith said Wallace will strengthen the Celtics.
“They’re a pretty good team as it stands,’’ Smith said. “We still have to go through them - they’re the last team in the East to win the championship, so we have to go through them to win it.’’
Said Celtics guard Bill Walker: “It gives us another great presence on our team, another potential Hall of Famer. It adds to our defense, too. He’s a great rebounder, a great shooter, he spaces the floor - so, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be crazy next year. The East is full of great, capable teams, so it’s going to be a dogfight; but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s great for the fans, for everyone.’’
“His quickness and speed are really good and I thought he did a good job in transition,’’ assistant coach Mike Longabardi said.
“Each day he plays, more and more he’s going to get accustomed to what to expect in an NBA game. For a first Summer League game, he was pretty good.’’
Celtics forward Mike Sweetney (hamstring strain) played 15 minutes and is expected to play against Orlando today.
Walker scored a team-high 14 points in 22 minutes.
Davis is not high on Orlando’s list. “Not today,’’ Smith said. “I think we like who we like. You can’t make us like who we don’t like. There’s been a lot written about who we like and most of it is not true. We have a tendency to like who we like - most franchises do - so, right now, he’s just not on our radar.’’
“It’s a little different,’’ Adrien said of his first professional action. “I just have to be patient and take the time to learn. It’s like my freshman year; my first game, I played four minutes. And that never happened again.’’
Former UConn guard A.J. Price scored 8 points in 20 minutes for Indiana and former Massachusetts forward Gary Forbes had two rebounds for the Nets/76ers.
Adrien, an undrafted free agent forward, participated in workouts with 14 teams and was hoping to be selected by the Celtics, his hometown team.
“It was a good thing and bad thing,’’ said Adrien, who grew up in Brookline. “It’s good because I got to pick a team. But I didn’t get drafted and I didn’t get to hear my name called. But I’m past the ego thing and now I am just trying to make a team.’’
Adrien said he has an offer to catch on with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.