You heard it here first…Danny Granger will not be a Pacer at this time next year.
According to people close to the Indiana front office, management will actively look to move Granger this upcoming season if not next offseason.
There are numerous reasons behind their thinking, both financial and basketball.
Danny Granger is due $27 million over the next two seasons. Yes, he’s the team’s leading scorer and spiritual leader (see altercations with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade…oh and even Larry Sanders). However, he is no longer the face of the franchise, Roy Hibbert is. Roy, coincidentally, just signed a maximum contract (courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers).
It is conceivable to pay both players that much money, but the real issue is the future of swingman Paul George. While Danny is a finished product and one-time All-Star, Pacers management feels that Paul can exceed that in the coming years. His contract will be up in 2014 and Indiana is simply not going to let another team come in and outbid them for their homegrown stud. Also, George has been playing SG the past two seasons despite being more of a small forward. The longer Granger is occupying that SF spot in the starting lineup the more Paul’s growth is hindered. It’s time he assume his rightful position and grow into a star role, much like Danny once did.
The Pacers have a lot of things they can accomplish with Granger’s money. The team still needs to improve their depth on the frontline to tangle with the rim-attacking Heat and the new Bynum-led Sixers. Power forward David West is on the decline (and will be a free agent next summer) while Tyler Hansbrough and Miles Plumlee are merely a step up from Jeff Pendergraph. Indiana lost Darren Collison this summer and replaced him with…D.J. Augustin, hardly an upgrade. Then they lost Leandro Barbosa while netting the mercurial Gerald Green. Other than keeping Hibbert, it’s been a very average summer in Indiana as they hope to grow from within. I agree, but you still need depth to get through an 82-game season and deep into the playoffs.
Much the same way that Philadelphia recently traded Andre Iguodala and that Memphis continues to gauge interest in Rudy Gay, so will Indiana try and move Danny Granger in the near future. All three guys are talented star-caliber players…..but they are not the face of their franchises.
To sum up: Roy Hibbert is the present, Paul George is the future…..and Danny Granger is just a well-paid scorer.
That “star” money can be spent better elsewhere for a team hoping to take the next step.