The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly interested in adding a veteran point guard in free agency and the Utah Jazz’s George Hill is one of their main targets.
Although Gordon Hayward’s free agency decision is by far the most crucial for the Utah Jazz this offseason, perhaps the most challenging decision the organization will have to make is relating to point guard George Hill. When healthy, he was a revelation for the Jazz, but unfortunately that wasn’t all that often as Hill missed 33 games this season as well as the final three postseason contests when he was needed the most.
Not to mention, while he was brilliant at times, the 31-year-old has likely essentially reached his ceiling and thus may end up demanding a much higher salary than Utah feels comfortable extending when all is said and done. While it would be unfortunate to lose out on Hill after just one year, depending on what kinds of offers come his way, it might be in the Jazz’s best interest to let him go.
And considering the caliber of teams that are projected to pursue Hill, there’s a good chance that he will have some big money thrown his way. Even prior to the season’s end, the league-worst Brooklyn Nets were a team that was reported to be interested in Hill and a handful of other bottom-feeders have been mentioned as well.
But most recently, the team that has emerged as being expected to pursue George Hill this offseason is the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to a report that surfaced on Monday from Real GM, the Wolves are clearly looking for an upgrade at the point guard position as they are planning to pursue one of either George Hill, Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague in free agency.
In some ways this development comes as no surprise. It’s been pretty much common knowledge that Minnesota has been ready to move on from point guard Ricky Rubio for some time and they may very well benefit significantly from adding a more veteran point guard that packs greater offensive punch. Any of those three options certainly would fit that bill although, particularly in the case of George Hill, they may not be quite as good of passers or assist-men as Rubio.
However, the reason why Minnesota having such interest in Hill could be troubling for the Jazz is the fact that it wouldn’t be all that hard for the Wolves to offer him the max or near-max deal that Hill is supposedly coveting. Not only did the Timberwolves boast the fourth lowest payroll in the NBA in 2016-17, but if they trade away Rubio, who happened to be their highest paid player last year, they’d have even more space to add Hill at a high dollar level.
And although the Wolves are certainly behind the Jazz in terms of talent, especially if Hayward bolts from Utah then Minnesota might not be a bad fit for Hill and could end up being a quick riser in the West. They are stocked with promising young talent which includes Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn all locked in on extremely friendly contracts for at least two more years.
Perhaps adding a savvy veteran such as Hill who can run an offense well and would bring defensive prowess and a level head to a young and often times undisciplined squad would be exactly what Minnesota needs.
Therefore, while Hill’s future remains far from certain in terms of how much he’ll be offered, whether or not his top priority is to stay with the Jazz or go elsewhere, or if Utah will be able to pay him what he’s seeking, the one thing that’s abundantly clear is that teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves will come seeking his services.
And given that any squad outside of perhaps San Antonio or Cleveland has a pretty bleak outlook for competing with the Golden State Warriors for a championship, even teams that are currently worse than the Jazz but may have bright futures and can offer a max contract might end up being the most appealing for someone like Hill.
Even though Hill is an unrestricted free agent and can ultimately decide his own fate, I imagine that his decision will hinge largely on what becomes of Gordon Hayward. If Hayward stays in Utah, I truly believe that Hill would like to remain with the squad, but then at that point the ability to retain him will depend entirely on how much Utah can offer him and what kind of salary he’s after.
On the flip side, if Hayward leaves, while it might convince Hill to seek a more formidable team to join, it could also result in the Jazz being willing to offer him a larger contract of equal or greater value to what other teams are throwing his way just so that they can keep some proven talent on their roster to help counter the loss of their All-Star.
Either way, the Jazz have made it clear that they’d like to retain George Hill, but of course several variables will affect their ability to do so and if Hill ends up leaving it will likely be because he desired to earn more money elsewhere.
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Hill was an important piece to Utah’s success last season, but his contributions pale in comparison to those of Gordon Hayward. Therefore, if Hayward stays and Jazz brass feels that it has a better plan in place without George Hill and his presumably hefty contract, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him opt to join the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Beyond the fact that they’re interested in him, they’re a team on the rise that Hill could very well help to reach new heights.