Following the 2021 NBA trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers landed Oklahoma City Thunder veteran point guard George Hill. While Hill is certainly an upgrade to the Sixers' bench, he did come with a significant question mark.
Earlier in the season, Hill started for the first 14 games with the Thunder. Then, he was sidelined with a thumb injury. After electing to undergo surgery, Hill then never played another game for the Thunder this year before getting traded to Philly.
At this point, Hill is no longer sporting a cast on his hand and is able to get some shots up, but the veteran guard hasn't been cleared for contact just yet. Therefore, he's been limited to just getting shots up during Sixers' practices and shootarounds.
Although 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey made it seem as if Hill was close to returning, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers sort of hinted at the opposite. “He’s on the trip. He’s not playing yet, but he’s on the trip, and he shot today," said Rivers on Tuesday night. "Again, there’s no timetable that I know of, to be honest. I can’t see it anytime soon, honestly.”
Rivers, who suffered the same injury during his playing days, is quite familiar with what Hill is dealing with. So, if there's anybody who knows whether Hill is truly ready to get back out on the court or not, it's Doc Rivers.
“I had that same injury, and that’s not anything you mess around with," Rivers continued. "Just one whack -- you may not get injured -- but the pain is excruciating because your nerves are so raw. We’re going to try to be as tentative as possible with this injury.”
With mixed messages coming from the Sixers, George Hill had yet to address his injury timeline himself. Finally, he was able to do so following practice on Thursday. "They said they want to take it one day at a time," Hill mentioned in regards to his timeline for return. "No one knows the timetable yet, but I will be back this season for sure," he laughed. "I will be back before playoffs for sure."
Hill then went on to describe the situation and detail how complicated it is. "I'm just getting everything going," he explained. "You know, once you shut your body down for three months or so, not just your finger, but you have to make sure the whole car is up to date. Your Achilles, your ankle, your legs, and things like that."
As Hill continues to undergo rehab on his thumb, he's also working on ramping up his conditioning so he can get back into basketball shape as well. "I think from me coming in the last couple of days to now, the progress has been tremendous," he concluded. "It's been really going well. [My return] is going to be sooner than expected."
The Sixers continue their season on Friday night with a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. Considering Hill hasn't been cleared for contact yet, he's more than likely going to miss Philly's next matchup as he continues to work on getting his body right once again.