Danny Granger is currently working on a buyout with the Philadelphia 76ers. Granger was shipped to Philly with a future second-round pick for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen at the NBA trade deadline, as the 76ers gear up for a record-setting, loss-filled stretch run that will hopefully earn them the first overall pick in the NBA draft.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers are gunning for the Eastern Conference crown and their first NBA championship in franchise history (although it’s worth noting that they did win three ABA titles). The acquisition of Turner is huge for the Pacers, who now have more small-ball options and another handler.
Although it’s likely that Allen will spend most of his time in the role that Mark Madsen made famous (a.k.a. cheerleader), having another defensive-minded big is never a bad thing for a contender.
With all that being said, none of this concerns Granger.
Granger, a one-time All-Star and the NBA’s 2008-09 Most Improved Player, has officially fallen into purgatory.
Entering the 2011-12 lockout season, Granger was thought of as a cornerstone of an improving Pacers team. Along with fellow veteran David West and a trio of youngsters in Paul George, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers took the Miami Heat to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals before falling to the eventual champs. Granger led the team in scoring during both the regular season and the playoffs.
The next year, Granger played only five games for the Pacers due to a knee injury, but the team’s progress was anything but stunted. Collison left in free agency and was replaced with George Hill (who was acquired for the rights of Kawhi Leonard on draft night), Lance Stephenson stepped into the starting lineup and Paul George became a two-way superstar. Once again the Pacers challenged the Miami Heat, this time bringing them to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, before falling to the eventual champs (again).
This year, Granger was supposed to be ready for the beginning of the season, but an ankle injury sidelined him until Dec. 20. With Stephenson blossoming into a should-have-been All-Star and George continuing his evolution as an elite player, Granger no longer had a role with Indiana. Granger played in 29 games, but was a shell of his former self, averaging 8.3 points on just 36 percent shooting.
At 30 years old, Granger is interested in signing with a contender. His days of being an All-Star are certainly over, but his days of being a productive bench scorer could be beginning.
Cue the Houston Rockets.
Several teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat all have interested in signing Granger, with the Clippers probably providing the best fit with the most available minutes.
However, Granger could be the final piece for the Rockets.
Houston reportedly had interest in acquiring Granger last year at the trade deadline, which is something that the Rockets could use to woo the former All-Star away from other potential suitors. With Houston, Granger would have a definitive role as a wing scorer off the bench and he could potentially finish games for the Rockets as a stretch 4.
Granger would be a definite upgrade over Omri Casspi, who has appeared in 54 games this season and is averaging 7.5 points on 44 percent shooting in 19 minutes per game. At this stage of his career, and at this stage of his recovery from all the injuries that have plagued him over the last couple of years, 15-25 minutes would be perfect for the Granger, who will be hoping to score a multi-year deal this offseason.
With Granger, Houston would have the luxury of playing four-out, one-in with Granger, Chandler Parsons, James Harden and Patrick Beverley/Jeremy Lin surrounding Dwight Howard in the post. Kevin McHale has shown the propensity to go small late in games, as he displayed in last Thursday’s loss against the Golden State Warriors when he went with Beverley, Lin, Harden, Parsons and Howard down the stretch. With Granger replacing either Beverley or Lin (depending on the point guard matchup), Houston would be better equipped on the boards and from beyond the arc.
McHale has looked a little hesitant to use Terrence Jones late in games of late, as the youngster consistently gets abused in the post and has an inconsistent jumper. Although Jones has loads of potential and is Houston’s 4 of the future, Granger could help serve as a bridge to next season for both Jones and the recently acquired Jordan Hamilton (as a backup, floor-stretching wing), while keeping Houston in the championship conversation this season.