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George Hill wants to offer a bit of clarification.
He did not know that he was going to be traded to the Utah Jazz, he said with a laugh, when he was at Lone Peak High's basketball camp in early June. Of course, a few weeks later, he was dealt to Utah in a three-team trade.
On Saturday morning, months after the deal and a few weeks before training camp begins, Hill and Lone Peak coach David Evans conducted a free clinic for an estimated 150 kids. Hill seemed at ease at Utah's practice facility, as his run as the Jazz starting point guard almost upon him.
His blonde hair, which he kept for most of last season, is back to its traditional color. His smile, not always prevalent in his final days with the Indiana Pacers, is back. Hill spoke on a number of subjects on Saturday: his role on the Jazz, his work in the community, race relations around the country. But in an interview with The Tribune, he made one thing clear above all: He simply wants to win.
"When I was in the Western Conference (with the San Antonio Spurs), Utah was a powerhouse," Hill said. "They always made the playoffs, but in the past few years they've been in a rebuilding phase. All of my focus is on doing my best to help the Jazz get back into the playoffs, that's all that matters to me now. I've never been big on personal stats. I just want to do whatever it takes to win the game."
Hill is one of the main reasons for optimism among Utah fans. He's never going to wow anyone from the point guard position like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, or Chris Paul. But Hill is solid on both ends of the floor. His quickness, long arms and athleticism are tailor-made for Quin Snyder's defensive schemes, and he projects as a thoughtful and mature addition to the lockerroom. He adds stability and leadership to a position that's lacked much of both since 2011, when Deron Williams was one of the elite point guards in the NBA.
The Jazz craved Hill's ability to spot up and hit shots. They welcome his ability to stay in front of the many quicksilver point guards in the league. The Jazz front office would love for him to serve as a mentor to Dante Exum, the young point guard who is a year removed from a torn ACL.
Hill's summer has been a whirlwind between the trade, moving with his family to Salt Lake and community work, of which he does a lot in his hometown of Indianapolis. But his personal life and schedule are both stabilizing as training camp looms.
"Utah's an amazing state and Salt Lake is an amazing city," Hill said. "I've been welcomed with open arms, I love it here. I can't wait until the season starts."
Saturday's clinic was free for kids, with individual sessions that lasted through the morning. Hill and Evans, who took over at Lone Peak when Quincy Lewis joined the staff at BYU, have been good friends for almost a decade.
During the clinic, Hill did a lot of skill work with the kids. He played fullcourt games with them. He shot around and took pictures. He interacted with the parents. For Hill, community work is second nature; he's known as a basketball player, but doesn't want to let basketball define who he is as a person.
"Having something like this is amazing," Hill said. "I'm blessed to be able to play basketball and to be able to have basketball as a job. But it's bigger than what I do on the court. It's not wholly who I am. I want to be someone who can impact lives."
With one year remaining on his contract, and without an extension (for which he is eligible in October), Hill will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Hill said that's not on his mind, however. He knows he will play a big role for the Jazz this season, and his potential value on the market next summer could be significant.
Still, the focus is on playing this season and trying to win as much as possible. He knows if he does that, the dominoes will fall into place.
"I haven't really talked about that much with anyone," Hill said. "My whole focus is to come in here and be the best player that I can possibly be. I feel that the contract situation will work itself out, once you do that."
About George Hill
P Traded to the Jazz as part of a three-team trade between Utah, Atlanta and Indiana.
• Joins Utah after playing previously with the Spurs and Pacers.
• Hill was traded by San Antonio to Indiana for a first-round draft pick the Spurs used to draft Kawhi Leonard.