Hill Calls Return 'Very Close'

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big_giddy
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OAKLAND A Tribe Called Bench is about to put out a remix.

Do-it-all veteran Grant Hill smiled and said he's got a January return in mind.

Clippers' Grant Hill, left, here watching from the bench with Lamar Odom during the preseason, says he expects to return this month from his knee injury.

"I just want to get out there and help and play," Hill said. "Hopefully, I'll improve things if that's possible."

Hill hasn't played since the Clippers final game in China during the preseason because of a bone bruise in his right knee.

"I'm very close, so I'm excited about that," Hill said.

When he returns, Hill will not likely cut into minutes for Matt Barnes. Del Negro said he envisions the two players on the court together.

"We got a little taste of it, even though it was early, in China. That second game out there, we were switching everything," Barnes said. "Lamar played center, Grant played the four and I played the three. We switched every single pick. I think that causes havoc.

"There are no open looks when a team is capable of defending like that, and I think we are."

Judging by that game, back-up forward Ronny Turiaf could see his minutes cut once Hill comes back.

Chauncey Billups is also still out with peroneal tendonitis in his left foot. There's no timetable for his return.

"We'll be 13 deep," Barnes said of the team once it gets to full strength. "Minutes are going to be sparing, but I think everyone understands the goals of this team."

Hill said the tough part will be fitting in with a successful team after missing more than two months at the start of the season.

"We're trying to win a championship. All these experiences, to go through this streak with or without me and Chauncey, help us," Hill said. "The challenge will be how we can integrate without changing the flow. Ultimately, we'll be judged by what we do in the postseason."

BUTLER NOT WITH TEAM

Starting small forward Caron Butler wasn't with the team Wednesday at Golden State. Butler went back to Racine, Wisc., for the funeral of his uncle, who had been seriously ill.

Without Butler in the lineup, the Clippers started Barnes at small forward.

According to a team spokesman, Butler is expected to be back with the team in time for Friday's game with the Lakers.

AWARD SEASON

The Clippers were honored with a pair of awards Wednesday, as the NBA announced the Western Conference Coach and Player of the Month.

Vinny Del Negro, who helped lead the team to an undefeated month, earned the coaches award for the first time in his career.

"It's great recognition for the organization, but it really goes back to the players," Del Negro said.

Chris Paul led the way for the Clippers during the month, averaging 16 points a game while leading the West with 9.3 assists and 2.63 steals.

"It's all about the players," Del Negro said. "Chris is Player of the Week and Player of the Month. Blake (Griffin)'s Player of the Week. Players win games, coaches lose. That's what I believe in."

Link: http://www.ocregister.com/sports/hill-382363-team-barnes.html

Silasie
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With the schedule coming up, with several back to backs we could really do with Grant in a uniform.

rytazer
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Can't wait for hill to come back, but I'm looking forward to Chauncey coming back to give us a more reliable starting two guard. I like green but we need billups starting

clipnasty
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Sounds like Jamal is a bit banged up right now, so the sooner the better for Hill and Chaunc.

david
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Grant must be doing pretty well in practice to be close- definitely great news. He would be good vs a team like GS because of his length over Willie Green, and he won't get posted up like Green did by Harrison Barnes.

clippersfan85
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When Hill comes back VDN should consider playing Butler or Barnes as starting SG instead of Green. Butler's shot has been more consistent from 3 this season so I would probably play him at the 2 and Barnes or Hill at the 3. This would ensure all our SFs get adequate minutes.

Also when is Chauncey expected back? Will Trey Thompkins ever suit up this season?

jarca
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No time table for billups return? Uh oh

TheDude
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That trip that starts in about 10 days at Memphis would be a great time for Grant to start playing again. Seems like guys are a little beat up, we could use the depth for that trip.

Next week is two wins, a lot of practice and rest. We'll need it after this weekend. Just hope Billups can get back on the court this month too. Just seems like we should be unbeatable if we ever get to full strength. Billups starting and GHill/Barnes taking all the back up forward minutes with Lamar at C. We'll be at the point where every guy in the rotation is starter quality. Just coming at you in waves. I like Turiaf most of the time and he gives effort every night but it's a lot different if we have Barnes/GHill/Lamar front court during all the bench time.

Just hope the healthy guys can gut it out for a couple wins this weekend and go into the bulk of this month on a good note.

CapsNClips
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Grant Hill is going to help tremendously, I prefer Grant to start over Butler because of his post-up and mid-range game can help with our half court offense. And he's obviously a better defender.

Andrew818
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Wonder if Hill will take Turiafs minutes at the 4 and VDN moves Odom to the 5.Really can't see Hill taking Barnes or Butlers minutes since Butler is already giving up a lot of minutes and Barnes has been playing great for us.We won't be that big down low with Hill and Odom but our ball movement and offense would be a lot better with Hill and Odom at the 4 and 5.Our rebounding might fall off a bit but Odom has really be doing a great job on the glass.Really interested to see what VDN does with Hill.

LotsoHope
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Hill's return has worried me the most, with how well Barnes is playing. I think Bledsoe is actually at biggest risk for losing minutes here with the way he's been playing lately. I wouldn't be surprised seeing a bigger G/SF 2nd unit lineup with Crawford, Barnes, and Hill, though that's a lot of trust in Crawford to run the floor considering he's a chucker (albeit a good one). Tough to say, be interesting to see how Vinny shakes up the rotation.

I would much prefer Billups' return to come sooner, at least he doesn't impact the rotation one bit and is an instant upgrade over Green.

wessleejr
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VDN just said that Barnes and Hill will play together, only Ronny's minutes will be affected. So l think the second unit will be Bledsoe, Crawford, Barnes, Hill and Odom.

Please read the TS post.

ohMEohMy!
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I just hope this means less minutes for Green.

realbull17
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Hurry Hill! wink

ClipsGForce
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Aww man I really like Turiaf at the 5. He's a hustler. This will be interesting to watch.

pageC4
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my personal opinion is that hill and billups are only going to be introduced back into the lineup to break a losing streak. vinny did this masterfully and we all saw how billups addition immediately sparked that huge winning streak

Clipswhit
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^ now would be a great time to reintroduce Hill if he's ready.

A7XDreamTheaterClipps
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I'm so excited about Hill's close return. Once Hill and Chauncey are back without setbacks, the Clippers will be virtually unstoppable. As good as Chris Paul, we are desperately missing out on veteran leadership. That's all we need to take us to the top. We have everything else right now.

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