Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports on Twitter that, in response to Jeff Pendergraph's season-ending torn ACL, the Portland Trail Blazers "intend to sign" free agent center Steven "The Mountain Man" Hill to their training camp roster.
It's not a stretch to say that Hill is a Blazers living legend: his upbringing, facial hair and game (sort of) left die-hard fans and observers so enraptured during a 2008 Summer League and training camp stint that news of his release led to this "There Is No Justice" headline.
For the late-arrivers, Hill earned the "Mountain Man" moniker for his Ozark roots and excellent beard (mane, really). Hailing from Branson, Missouri, one of the great Freak Capitals of the Northern Hemisphere, Hill is a legit 7'0". By legit, I mean that he is seven feet tall, not that he necessarily has legitimate skills.
Hill's 2008 preseason averages about sum it up: 1.0 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.7 blocks in 9 minutes per game. He's a fringe big man who lost the race for the 15th roster spot that year to Blazersedge Superstar Shavlik Randolph and recently saw time with the D-League's Tulsa 66ers (the Oklahoma City Thunder's affiliate under Rich Cho's management) and with the Sacramento Kings during this past Summer League. He's an ego-free, aww-shucks guy who is familiar with Nate McMillan and his system and is always ready to work. He was reportedly favored by McMillan over Randolph in 2008 for his defensive mindset and rebounding while General Manager was said to have favored Randolph.
Freeman also reports that Hill is expected to be on the roster for Portland Monday night as they take on the Utah Jazz during a preseason game being held at the Memorial Coliseum.
Despite the signing, the Blazers remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to making a 15-man roster adjustment. Not only are they anticipating returns from both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, but they are waiting for the rest of the league to cut down their camp rosters. Once that happens, Portland can assess any new available options and will likely look to add another big to provide some depth to their frontcourt rotation.
Barring an unexpected trade, this could mean the release of center Jeff Pendergraph. If you read the team's press release regarding his knee injury, you'll notice vague words of encouragement that make no direct reference to Pendergraph returning in a Blazers uniform.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter