By Ben Golliver
We'll have to wait a little bit longer than expected to see Grant Hill take the court during a regular season game for the first time since turning 40.
The Orange County Register reports that Hill, who is entering his 18th NBA season, is expected to miss the Clippers' season opener with a bone bruise in his right knee.
An MRI performed on Hill's right knee showed a bone bruise, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Tuesday. After the Clippers' 88-71 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday, Hill said his injury will keep him out "at least a couple of weeks."
Should Hill miss two weeks exactly, he would be forced to sit out L.A.'s first four games. If his absence extends to three weeks, he would miss seven games. L.A. opens its season against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 31 at the Staples Center.
Clearly, this is a troubling start for Hill, who signed a 2-year contract worth $4 million with the Clippers as a free agent this summer.
After turning 40 on Oct. 5, Hill has a chance to become the sixth oldest player in NBA history if he plays through the end of his current two-years contract. Only Nat Hickey, Kevin Willis, Robert Parish, Dikembe Mutombo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have played past their 42nd birthday. To join that group, he would need to sign on somewhere to play in 2014-15.
Hill, the second-oldest player in the NBA behind New York Knicks forward Kurt Thomas, underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee back in March but was only sidelined a few weeks. He returned to help the Phoenix Suns with their push towards the Western Conference's No. 8 seed, but they wound up falling short.
Make no mistake, the Clippers picked up Hill to play, not just serve as a token veteran voice in their locker room. He was penciled in for major minutes on the wing, especially until veteran guard Chauncey Billups returns from an Achilles injury suffered last season. Capable of playing either small forward or two guard, Hill joins Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Willie Green on L.A.'s wings.
The Clippers didn't pick up Barnes until very late in the summer, and reportedly pursued him mainly because of Chris Paul's urging. They'll be glad they did now, as he's a physical, high-energy player who can provide some of the defense that Hill brings to the table. Hill averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 28.1 minutes for the Suns last season. He averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in two preseason games for the Clippers.