On this day in 2000, the Orlando Magic acquired small forward Grant Hill from the Detroit Pistons in a sign-and-trade deal for center Ben Wallace and guard Chucky Atkins. Hill, the third overall pick by the Pistons in the 1994 NBA Draft, as well as a five-time All-Star at the time, had reportedly been interested in leaving Detroit for Orlando in free agency. The Pistons, hellbent on not losing their star without anything in return, began to pick up the phone and see if they could trade Hill and get some assets back. At the time of the trade, most believed that Detroit got the short end of the stick and settled for less. Wallace and Atkins were both young and undrafted, perceived as role players. However, this trade ushered in a new era of Detroit Pistons basketball.
Over the next few years, Detroit brought in point guard Chauncey Billups, shooting guard Richard Hamilton, small forward Tayshaun Prince, and power forward Rasheed Wallace, creating a core that would contend for championships and win a title in 2004. En route to six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals from 2002-2008, Wallace emerged as one of the best defensive big men in the league, being selected to four All-Star Teams, six All-NBA Defensive Teams, five All-NBA teams, and winning the Defensive Player of the Year award four times.
Hill was not so prosperous with his new team in Orlando. With the Magic acquiring Tracy McGrady as well, many believed that the two would form one of the best duos in the league and compete for championships. However, Hill’s time in Orlando was hampered by constant injuries. Although he averaged 16.4 points with the Magic, Hill missed 281 games in his first four years with the team and missed the entire 2003-2004 season due to an ankle injury, ironically the same season that his former team won the NBA Finals. Hill would leave Orlando for a five-year stint with the Phoenix Suns before the final year of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite averaging 16.7 points per game over 18 years in the league, derailed by injuries, Hill remains one of the biggest “what-if” stories in the NBA.