NBA NOTES: Hill chuckles as Toronto pulls out all stops for McGrady
Grant Hill laughed when he heard how the Raptors are trying to keep Tracy McGrady in Toronto rather than let him leave as a free agent.
”They don’t have to do stuff like that for me, bringing 1,000 kids into practice,” said Hill, who will become a free agent this summer. ”When the season’s over, you sit down, clear your mind and make a good, smart, educated decision.”
The Raptors actually brought 10,000 youth league kids to a practice, hundreds of whom signed a large ”Come Back T-Mac” card that the kids waved at McGrady.
One fan has set up a Web site to gather petitions asking McGrady to return, and the Raptors have set up an e-mail account (www.comebacktmactorontoraptors.com) for fans who want to tell McGrady to stay.
No similar inducements are being directed at Hill, who has played his entire professional career in Detroit without ever having won a playoff series. But fans still come up to him and tell him how they feel.
”The fans the last two years have been saying ‘Don’t leave, we want you to stay,’ blah, blah, blah,” Hill said.
The Orlando Magic covet Hill and Tim Duncan, who also will be a free agent, while the Chicago Bulls would like nothing more than to bring McGrady in as the centerpiece of their rebuilding.
Like Duncan and McGrady, Hill hasn’t tipped his hand on his plans. He said he doesn’t even know if he’ll make his decision Aug. 1 – the first day free agents are allowed to sign contracts.
”Maybe it’ll be Sept. 1. The luxury is I have all summer to do it,” Hill said. ”I can’t predict the future. I thought Duke would make the Final Four and I was wrong.”
BOOSTING BIG CHIEF: The coach of the year contest looks to be a two-man race between Orlando’s Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson picked up one surprise supporter Thursday night – his rival and fellow All-Star coach, Jeff Van Gundy of the New York Knicks.
”(Rivers) has done a great job, but Phil Jackson, to me, has overachieved,” Van Gundy said.
The Lakers entered the weekend having won 30 of 31 games. If they win their remaining six games, beginning Saturday night against San Antonio, they’ll become only the second 70-win team in NBA history. The other was the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who went 72-10 to earn Jackson his only coach of the year award.
Rivers has taken a team with four new starters into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, with a legitimate shot at moving as high as sixth.
”They play harder than any team in the league, by far,” Van Gundy said.
Orlando entered Friday night’s game against New York with a seven-game winning streak and a 2-game lead over the ninth-place Milwaukee Bucks.
OTHER MAN OF STEEL: The first time opposing players see Washington center Jahidi White, they can’t believe the size of him – especially his shoulders and arms.
White looks like a cross between a weightlifter and an NFL defensive lineman. He stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 290 pounds, with chiseled arms and huge, broad shoulders that are as big as anyone’s in the league, with the exception perhaps of Shaquille O’Neal.
”He’s right up there with him, especially size-wise. He’s a horse out there,” teammate Aaron Williams said.
White’s biceps measure 18 inches, Wizards trainer Kevin Johnson said.
”Right now I bench-press 400,” White said. ”Curls, I don’t try to maximize, I just put 245 pounds on and do some curls.”
Between his rookie season last year and this season, White got serious about his workouts and dropped a lot of the weight he had been carrying around since his college days at Georgetown.
”I lifted, changed a lot of fat into muscle. I worked out a lot, ran a lot, ate right,” he said.
GETTING PAID: The Vancouver Grizzlies almost lost their coach Thursday night before they pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, beating the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lionel Hollis had threatened to quit if the team didn’t increase his salary. Hollins had continued to draw his assistant coach’s salary, with no raise, since taking over for the fired Brian Hill on Dec. 16.
”I said, ‘I’ll give you till Thursday to talk. After that, if I’m not happy with what’s going on, I’m not coaching,”’ Hollins said. ”It was something I was prepared to do.”
Hollins, 17-35 coaching Vancouver, wanted the matter settled before prospective owner Michael Heisley takes over.
The NBA’s Board of Governors is expected to approve Heisley’s deal Tuesday, along with Mark Cuban’s purchase of the Dallas Mavericks.
MOMS GOT GAME: An organization of mothers of NBA players is having its annual convention this weekend in Hoover, Ala., and some of the women will suit up for an exhibition game Sunday night.
One of the referees will be Charles Barkley.
The mothers of Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Terrell Brandon and Theo Ratliff are scheduled to speak on ”How To Raise a Professional Basketball Player and Survive.”
In attendance will be 47 NBA moms.