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For the Spurs, 2008 was all about George Hill

One of the Silver & Black’s most legendary stories started with this draftee.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Welcome to the daily Thread. During the month of June, we are talking NBA Draft. As we lead up to the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21st, we will be revisiting the Spurs draft choices. Today we remember the 2008 NBA Draft.

The Spurs drafted IUPUI Junior George Hill with the 26th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He served as a back-up point guard for three season before becoming the token piece of the most infamous (or famous) trade in Spurs history.

For starters, Hill was considered to be one of Gregg Popovich’s favorite players. The two have a unique relationship that continues to this day. The decision to trade Hill was one of the most difficult Pop ever had to make.

“The toughest [decision] in whatever, 20, whatever years I’ve been coaching here as a head coach. It’s not even close. We were scared to death sitting in the room. I think it was the 15th pick, if I remember, and when we got to 11, 12, 13. Danny Ferry, our CEO, and I were looking at each other saying, ‘Are we really going to do this?’

”[Hill] was one of my favorite players. He was important to us, but we needed to get bigger. … So in the end, we said we’re going to roll the bones and we’re going to do it, but I can’t tell that at that point we knew that Kawhi was going to be what he is today. That would be an exaggeration.”

Hill was traded to the Indiana Pacers on draft night 2011 for the #15 pick Kawhi Leonard, Dāvis Bertāns the 42nd pick, and the draft rights to Erazem Lorbek that the Pacers had acquired in the 2005 NBA Draft. Hill spent five seasons with the Pacers primarily as their starting point guard.

In 2016, Hill went to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team deal that included the Atlanta Hawks sending Jeff Teague to Indiana and Utah sending Taurean Prince’s draft rights to the Hawks. He started and played in 49 total game in his lone season with the Jazz before signing a $57 million dollar/3-year deal with the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings traded Hill at the trade deadline this season for Iman Shumpert. Hill and the Cavs fell to the Golden State Warriors in a four-game sweep.

In the second round, the Spurs utilized the 45th pick acquired from the 2007 trade with the Toronto Raptors for Georgios Printezis (mentioned yesterday) to draft Goran Dragić, but traded his to the Phoenix Suns for the 48th pick Malik Hairston, their 2009 second round draft pick (who would become DeJuan Blair), and cash considerations. Although Hairston didn’t make the roster at the beginning of the season, he signed in December of the 2008 season with the Spurs and played in 15 games, He returned the following season and played in 47 games. He played overseas from then until the end of the 2017 season.

With the 57th pick of the draft, the Spurs chose James Gist. Gist played overseas before returning to San Antonio to join the Spurs in Summer League. He was subsequently waived in 2010 and returned to competing in various leagues.

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