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Hill is out for season

The Magic's forward needs more surgery on his ankle after injuring it last season.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 28, 2000

ORLANDO -- Grant Hill is scheduled for season-ending surgery on his ankle, a devastating blow to the Magic and its hope that the five-time All-Star would lead Orlando to an NBA title.

Hill said he was sitting out because his injury had become a distraction to his teammates, who were uncertain he could play. Doctors said he should make a full recovery.

"You don't ever really want to have surgery unless you have to and I guess in this case I do," Hill said Wednesday at a news conference. "When your body talks, you have to listen to it."

Hill, acquired from Detroit in the off-season, is expected to be sidelined six to eight months, general manager John Gabriel said.

"Our focus is to put Grant Hill in the best possible position to return as the player that we all know he is," he said.

The 6-foot-8 forward originally was injured at the end of last season while with the Pistons. He had surgery April 28 to repair a broken bone in his left ankle in which five screws and a plate were inserted.

Hill appeared in only four games for the Magic, 12-16 and third in the Atlantic Division. He is averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.25 steals in 33.3 minutes.

Hill was acquired by Orlando on Aug. 3 in a sign-and-trade deal with the Pistons for Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace.

Hill, whose bad ankle forced him to miss the Sydney Olympics, said his injury created uncertainty for his teammates.

"Can he go? Can he not go?" he said. "Is he injured? Can he practice? What's the deal? It just kind of became a distraction, and that's the last thing I want to become, a distraction to the team."

Team physician Joe Billings said a plate and five screws will be removed from the ankle. A bone graft from his pelvis will be done and new screws will be inserted, most likely next week.

Only 5 percent of patients need a second operation, Billings said. Hill had continued to complain of pain and doctors were concerned the ankle was only 20-30 percent healed.

Hill is one of the NBA's highest-paid players, with a seven-year, $94-million contract with the Magic.

"We are very disappointed by this development, but the ultimate goal is to get Grant Hill healthy and back in uniform," Magic coach Doc Rivers said.

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