Is it possible that Danny Granger has played his last game as a Pacer? With the trade deadline approaching Thursday, March 15, rumor has it that the Pacers star small forward will be put on the trading block.
It kinda makes sense if you stop to think about it. Ever since Granger went down with a knee injury, Paul George has proved to be a capable No.1 option, and has the stats to prove it, including 394 rebounds, 195 assists and 893 points scored as of this writing. Plus, George is just 23 years old and will make $11 million less next season. With the Pacers sitting atop the Central Division, certainly it’s hard to argue with the results.
With Granger almost fully recovered from his knee injury and expected back by Wednesday, one has to wonder whether his return to the court isn’t as much about giving the Pacers a bonafide advantage as much as it is demonstrating to potential suitors that he is still the same player he was pre-injury. If he should prove to be in good form, there is good reason to believe he will be wearing a different jersey come February 21, 2013.
Pacers president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh has said he feels that Granger and George playing together makes sense. But does anyone really believe the Pacers need two players of this caliber at the same position?
It has been suggested in several media outlets that the Houston Rockets may be a potential suitor for his services. Rockets fans certainly wouldn’t mind. Adding Granger to a lineup that includes James Harden and Jeremy Lin would prove to be a formidable offensive combination, rivaling that of Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. In fact, Houston already ranks second in the league, averaging 106 points per game.
At the same time, most analysts are of the opinion that what Houston really needs is an elite defender. If that really the case, then trading for Granger doesn’t really serve the team’s most pressing need.
Their stats are virtually indistinguishable. Last year, Granger averaged 18.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest. Through 51 games this year, George has averaged 17.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. From a statistical point of view, it’s a wash. Plus, while Granger was once a dominant force, averaging over 24 points per game in consecutive seasons, he showed a decline in production last year.
Finally, one has to wonder about the health of Granger’s knee. Will he be able to play a full season? For a team that has averaged fewer than 93 points per game through 51 games this year, the Pacers would certainly benefit from his production.