Granger Eager To Return To Pacers — It Just Won’t Be Tonight Against Heat


VIDEO: Danny Granger says he is ‘pain free’ and close to a return

INDIANAPOLIS – So eager to return, so antsy for the opportunity to push the Indiana Pacers even higher in the Eastern Conference standings and closer to their goal of the No. 1 playoff seed (leading to a championship shot), Danny Granger nonetheless was determined not to face the Miami Heat Tuesday night.

Ducking the two-time defending champions? Not at all. Leery of fixing what ain’t broke in such a pivotal game? Exactly.

Granger, the one-time All-Star forward who has played fewer games (five) than Derrick Rose since the spring of 2012, is on the brink of returning from last season’s knee bruise and surgery and this season’s left calf strain. He’s ready physically and – after what initially was projected in late October as a three-week layoff from the calf has stretched now to six – more than ready mentally.

But flaking off rust in a game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday night that could dictate postseason schedules isn’t Granger’s or anyone else’s idea of a smart return.

“I wouldn’t even go on the court right now after not having played,” Granger said. “This game is just too important. As much as I hate to miss it, I wouldn’t play in it, not having played yet this season.”

In other words, if this were Charlotte, Granger might be making his 2013-14 debut. As it is, he said it’s possible he’ll face the Bobcats here Friday instead. Different foe, different stakes.

“We’re fighting for that No. 1 seed,” Granger said. “You know how it is in the playoffs – they say the team with the home-court advantage more often than not wins. And we want that No. 1 seed, so I’m gonna be sitting right there [on the bench] cheering.”

Granger, 30, stayed long after Indiana’s shootaround Tuesday, working on his shooting in a session with Pacers assistant coach Popeye Jones. He was sweating and breathing heavily afterward, his condition and leg strength still the biggest hurdles in getting back on the court in games. His calf, he said, feels fine. So does his knee.

“What I’m doing now is a lot of individual stuff. A lot of running, a lot of game-speed moves,” he said. On days most of the other Pacers get a day off, Granger makes time to scrimmage, working his way back in a routine that probably will require a minutes limit when he does return.

The hope amongst the Pacers and their fans is that Granger’s return is all plus, no minus. Any questions about whether he comes back as a starter or off the bench seem to have been settled by the team’s dazzling 18-3 start in his absence, the lineup solidifying on the wings with Paul George as the team’s primary threat and Lance Stephenson as a reliable, sometimes irrepressible option.

If coach Frank Vogel and the players are able to fold Granger what they’ve been doing without disrupting their roll, Indiana would be adding a deep shooting threat to stretch defenses and open up the middle for Roy Hibbert‘s and David West‘s paint work, as well as George’s lanes to the rim. If Granger somehow throws off the offense by requiring the ball “X” times per game…

Actually, Granger stifled the discussion right there. He cannot imagine that happening.

“I can’t mess up anything the way our team is,” said the 6-foot-8 forward with the 18.1 career scoring average. “We don’t have that type of team where I will come in and take 20 shots in a game. That’s just not our team. Not to mention, I won’t be playing [many] minutes in the beginning.

“The advantage that I bring, basically, is I’ve been through it many years. I’ve had the lead role and scored a lot of points and what-not. Just the playoff experience and the situations we’ll be in, laying it on the line when we’re facing Miami or when we’re facing Chicago in the playoffs, whoever, that experience that I bring really is invaluable.

“I really don’t have any pressure on me at this point. Like I say, we’re playing well. I just have to play myself into shape, get minutes there and do my thing.”


VIDEO: Granger explains why he’s not playing against the Heat

12 Comments

  1. Unkle Daddy says:

    He doesn’t need to rush back in any manor what so ever, but if you add a guy back in like Granger they only get that much better. I just don’t think even with LBJ as good as he is the Heat, can stop the Pacers this year.

    • larry says:

      bring him in to spell george or west. or let him run the second unit while the starters rest. KEEP HIM

  2. Derin says:

    Even with this great of a start to the season, the Pacers need Granger’s integral offensive role. He is solid from deep range, knows how to create shots if needed, and is one of the most statistically balanced players of his time. If not him, then who? Why should Indiana trade him for an interruption in team chemistry? Granger has prevailed through the highs and lows not only in his personal career, but in the past eight years of this franchise’s history. We know he can adapt to new conditions, but cannot say the same for Hibbert, Stephenson, or George. With him practicing, there should also be a high comfort level with him on the court on Friday. I’m betting on a double-digit scoring average from Granger this season. In the event that he starts again, the Pacer’s starting lineup can be manipulated to adjust to any opponent.

  3. carlos says:

    Granger is the shooter the pacers need and another good sized defender who can defend the 2 and 3 and for short spurts the 4 when teams go small and hes a vet who avg. 18ppg a game…however the pacers more pressing need is a pure pg how can handle the ball against double teams and create shots for d. west, r. hibbert and Pg and can score when needed about 10 pts a game and defend the pg position. So i would trade granger to see if i could get a pg who has those traits. I think rondo would be a great pick up or jameer nelson (tell him we dont need you to score just distribute) or a greives vasqes (no he cant play def but hes smart so he would play good team def) plus the pacers would get rid of that heavy contract and rent any of these players for the year and have money under the cap space at the end of the season!!

  4. Granger LA says:

    I wonder if the Clippers could offer a fair trade because they are one piece short of being a legit team right now. If Granger doesn’t disrupt chemistry then more power to the Pacers but in a month or two if he isnt bringing them value perhaps they can deepen their bench with dudley and barnes from LAC? if not who is a contended that could offer a good piece?

  5. keep danny granger hes done so much for indiana in past when indiana was struggling now there thriving and danny granger is indianas franchise player and will retire a pacer. I was hope he will play like old danny granger and stay healthy.

  6. spasalek says:

    no matter when he returns i wish him all the best and to become an important player for this Indiana pacers team, i mean it is delight to watch a team rebuild with no top 5 picks or big trades http://wp.me/p49gAF-1M

  7. off the bench says:

    They’re great now with or without danny granger

  8. PalmOil Preference says:

    Let him show he his held thy as trade his behind. The Pacers have shown enough that they can build around George and thier big men. Danny Granger was an Olympic type player before his injury so he will bring value by way of players and/or draft picks. The Pacers are in a win-win situation with Danny G if they keep him or trade him the outcome looks promising.

  9. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    They’re fine as it is, they don’t need him at all

  10. dustydreamnz says:

    Top player, whether he’s traded or not I hope we see some good Danny Granger this season. Very interesting to see what the Pacers do with him.

    • Nick Toussaint says:

      Granger can really make a difference with this Pacers team. If they have a Danny Granger from a few years back, they’ll be dangerous.