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Magic's Hill has surgery for hernia

ORLANDO, Fla. — All-Star forward Grant Hill was expected to miss three to six weeks after he has surgery for a sports hernia.

Hill, the Orlando Magic's second-leading scorer last season, saw several specialists after he was pulled from the lineup Oct. 19. The club said Thursday that Dr. William Myers would operate next week in Philadelphia.

"It's better than three to six months or three to six years," Hill said.

He told reporters earlier this week that he sustained the lower abdominal injury a few weeks before training camp began Oct. 4. A sports hernia is different from a true hernia. A sports hernia is a pulled groin muscle that worsens over time and affects the abdominal wall.

"I've often sort of joked with you all that when I sneeze it's big news," he said. "I'm not equating this with a sneeze — but it's something that, for a short period of time it bothered me."

Last season was Grant Hill's best for the Magic. Finally healed from an ankle injury that kept him off the court most of the previous four seasons, he hit a career-best 50 percent and averaged 19.7 points — good enough for sixth All-Star game appearance.

He averaged 11.5 points and 3 assists in the four preseason games he was able to play this year. Hill could be out until the middle of December — more bad news for a club trying to improve on a 36-46 record that kept it out of the postseason for the second straight year.

"You have to play with the people you have," coach Brian Hill said this week. "We can't use injuries, whether it's injuries to Grant or anybody else, as an excuse. We still have players here that are going to play hard and play within our system and play together as a team."

Hedo Turkoglu has been starting in Grant Hill's absence. Orlando's fourth-leading scorer last season at 14 points per game, Turkoglu is averaging 10.9 in seven exhibitions.

NUGGETS WAIVE 4: The Denver Nuggets, who play the Jazz tonight, waived centers Eric Chenowith and Nigel Dixon and forwards Mark Pope and Theron Smith on Thursday. Pope, who played in 13 regular-season games for the Nuggets the past two seasons, averaged just 4.7 minutes per game in three preseason appearances this year. Chenowith averaged 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in five appearances.

Dixon played in two exhibition games and grabbed 13 rebounds against Washington. Smith played in two games, averaging 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 10-for-11 from the field.

WIZARDS KEEP HAYES: The Washington Wizards used a fourth-year option Thursday on swingman Jarvis Hayes, keeping him under contract through the 2006-07 season. The Wizards also settled on their 15-man opening-day roster by releasing forward Hiram Fuller and guard Billy Thomas. Hayes was the No. 10 overall pick from Georgia in 2003. He averaged 10.2 points last season, but missed the last 28 regular-season games and the playoffs with a fractured kneecap.

The knee is still sore and has kept Hayes sidelined for much of this preseason. He was expected to compete for a starting spot at shooting guard or small forward.

Fuller is an undrafted rookie free agent from UAB. Thomas, from Kansas, failed to make the roster out of the training camp for the second straight year.

HORNETS WAIVE GARCIA: The New Orleans Hornets waived guard Alex Garcia on Thursday after playing eight games for the team last season. Garcia, who started three times for the Hornets last year, signed as a free agent before preseason camp. He was trying to make the roster at a position that became more crowded Wednesday when the Hornets traded for swingman Desmond Mason. The Hornets have 16 players on their roster.