Bird’s Famous Fire Drives Pacers’ Granger-Turner Trade

VIDEO: Get the latest on the Pacers-Sixers trade deadline deal.

All that Mt. Rushmore talk over All-Star Weekend, and the “No Vacancy” sign it flashed at so many of the NBA’s legendary players, might require some reconnoitering after all.

This Larry Bird, the one we got Thursday afternoon at the league’s trade deadline, is the one I’d want chiseled on my mountainside.

Anyone who has forgotten, and perhaps some tender fans who never knew, the razor’s edge that Bird brought to the court as a Hall of Fame player for Boston (and to the bench in his subsequent Coach of the Year work for Indiana) got a crash course in arguably the day’s most stunning move. Bird, the Pacers’ president, agreed to a deal sending veteran forward Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers for wing Evan Turner, big LaVoy Allen and, according to various reports, a future second-round pick.

One of the East’s two big dogs, one of the four A-list contenders (as of Thursday morning) to win the championship this spring – and it wasn’t enough for Larry Joe Bird, cutthroat competitor. Despite Granger’s elder statesman status in their locker room, despite what seemed over 2013-14’s first half to be a pat hand, Bird felt the Pacers needed more. And just as with the addition a few weeks back of Cavs center — and potential slacker and even cancer — Andrew Bynum, in the name of winning and matchups, Bird didn’t blink – he fixed something that others didn’t realize was broke.

Broke, at least in terms of chasing down a Larry O’Brien trophy, anyway.

The sentiment of welcoming Granger back into the fold this season, after his knee injury a year ago and a calf issue in the fall? The payoff that he surely felt, again being part of the year-by-year march toward a title (even if his new bench role didn’t fit perfectly after those years of solid service as Indiana’s leading scorer)?  Set aside. Weighed and rejected.

Less than two months from now, the Pacers will hit the postseason ready to accept nothing less than a trip to the Finals. Approximately three months from now, most everyone expects to see them locked in a death match with the Miami Heat, the two-time defending champs through whom the challengers must go.

“I didn’t think Granger would last that long, especially after Paul George became who he was,” said LeBron James before his mathcup with Kevin Durant and the Thunder. “It wasn’t surprising at all. I think they got a very good player. Obviously Granger is a really good player. He hasn’t found his niche after coming back after the injury, but I think Evan Turner is a really good player for them.”

This move was about money, sure, as almost all NBA transactions are these days. But it also was about facing the Heat, with a younger, livelier wing (Turner) and an extra big (Allen) for Indiana’s showdown with James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest.

Granger is a superior 3-point shooter, in particular, with greater range and a quicker more efficient game overall, but he wasn’t thriving off the bench (35.9 FG%). His numbers per-36 minutes were 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists, compared to Turner’s 17.9, 6.1 and 3.8. Defensively, Granger brings more bulk and willingness.

The 6-foot-7 Turner, a fourth-year draft mate of Indiana All-Star Paul George, has been logging heavy minutes for the Sixers, getting 15.4 shots per game and playing at a 13.3 PER level, compared to Granger’s 10.4. Turner can be a restricted free agent this summer – though not the Pacers’ top priority, with Lance Stephenson also hitting the market – and might not welcome a dip in playing time and scoring chances while trying to boost his price tag.

But the league knows what Turner can and can’t do for a team headed nowhere; he can open some eyes and maybe wallets by helping the Pacers, from both ends of the court, get where they want to go.

That’s what this season is all about for Indiana, that’s what Bird – the guy who often said he hates to lose more than he likes to win – is all about, too.


  1. jjones says:

    I wish people would stop using the Word “Cancer” out of Context.

  2. Brad says:

    I feel sorry for Granger. They don’t want the always injured Granger but they signed Bynum. I always have like Indiana to dethrone the Heat but after this trade, I am now routing for Heat. Granger was with them during the hard times but now that they are in the verge of winning a championship they just dump the one who help build this franchise. And now Pacers fans are excited. LOL.

  3. Victor says:

    I am a Miami Heat fan. I watched with joy the beat down the Heat gave to the Thunder. The Pacers may be in the Eastern Conference Finals to be beaten again by the Heat. The Heat is now playing championship basketball games by defeating all five playoffs teams in the Western Conference while the Pacers have lost 5 of the last 12 games.
    Pacer fans just expect the usual pain that you will live with in another disappointing season. Talent and chemistry are the main ingredients of championship teams and no team in the entire NBA can match the Heat.

  4. josh says:

    Don’t really see how this is an amazing trade. According to pacers and pacerr fans last year this guy Granger was the reason they lost cause he wasn’t playing??? Really? doubt it. And now you add a player that plays similar to hill, and stevenson who he will share minuets with. Don’t really think this is a big deal. They need to be worried about giving up that #1 seed that they have spent all their energy and effort to obtain, holding only a game in a half lead. Just my opinion but don’t think its a big deal.

    • mik says:

      the point is to strengthen the bench production. with Hill and Stephenson in the starting 5 Indy is already an elite team, it’s the bench that hurts them. so how can bringing the bench up to the standard of starting 5 be a bad thing?

  5. jimbo222 says:

    Doesn’t make a difference. The strength of the Paces is their big men and that is their advantage over Miami. Probably a nice trade in terms of replacing a player that cannot fit anymore in the rotation since PG have started stamping his authority but let’s see. Don’t think the move gave them any advantage (I’m talking about basketball and not the economics of it). Pacers losing before and after the All Star is actually giving a more disturbing sign for them. The intensity that they’ve been showing for the 1st half of the all star is actually very tiring. Let’s see how long they last. Don’t think they will.

  6. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    Granger gets shafted

  7. IAMAHEATFAN says:

    thank u Bird! u keep ruining the chemistry of your own team since Bynum trade. let’s see what this trade again will do to a very competitive team with chemistry issues.

  8. carlos says:

    This was a pretty good move…i think turner will fit in well. He can score and create his own shot. I think understanding the pacers concept on defense will help him, out on that end. He’s a big guard 6’7 that gives us extra length up top. He can play pt a lil pg. but mostly shooting sg…I think moving lance to the pg and allowing turner to run off screens would be effective, also this gives the pacer more room to sign lance this off season and still have cap room!

  9. Cornerman says:

    I like the trade.. the writer is right for making the pacers strong for the miami heat, but pacers should not think miami is the best in the east.. i think they will have a problem with the Bulls regardless of the injury of Drose..they are capable to do what they do last year against the Nets..

    By the way, Nets are pretty solid too, i think we can see good minutes for KG and paul pierce in playoffs

    • RedflaggoldstarVN says:

      This is an insane comment. Miami will swept the Rose-less Bulls and overmatch Nets both coaching and talent wise. Not to mention the Nets have major chemistry problems with those old Celtics in their former shelve. Rookie coach Jason Kidd is a pathetic and overmatch head coach. The players don’t even respect him. Especially those have play for Doc Rivers.

      The 2-time World Champion and 3-time NBA Finals appearance Miami Heat is clearly the top 2 team in the East (other being the Pacers) and the top 4 teams in the NBA. Chicago and New Jersey can’t hold the Heat or the Pacers’ jock. And it’s not even close. Miami or Indiana will blow out China and NJ Nets and sweep them out of the playoff (if they even make it) like high school team.

  10. if the pacers cant win it all this season LANCE STEPHENSON will leave em
    of course its a break out season for LS and sure his price will rise and rise
    and hes young his priority is to get rich first! i wish LS will end up in the CAVS
    with Kyrie and Luol sure they can be in the playoffs

    • asdf says:

      Stephenson wont leave indiana, Indiana made stephenson, he was the biggest knucklehead in the league when he came in, but vogel and his staff took him in, developed him, and he matured somewhat.

  11. Dionte Christmas says:

    This trade is a slam dunk to my eyes, as long as one thing remains unbroken: Pacer locker room chemistry. As a Celtics fan I have seen firsthand what kind of effect it can have on a team losing a valuable locker room guy and role player (Perk for Green at the trade deadline). With the addition of Bynum and the integration of two new guys, not to mention the loss of a veteran leader, will Indiana be able to maintain their chemistry and form?

  12. Celtics fan says:

    Evan Turner is an insurance if Lance Stephenson won’t sign with Indiana next off season. but keeping the 2 would be the best case scenario

    • defdun says:

      …and ET is an insurance if Lance Stephenson goes wild (in the negative sense) during the playoffs. I like Lance, but he’s a loose canon… (Maybe call him “Loose Lance”)
      And Evan Turner will now be very efficient within the Pacers game plan where he is asked to be a role player iso a high vol shooter.
      Watch out : with these last moves Pacers have what it takes to get by Miami! Nothing against the Heat, but really looking forward to a new team in the Finals for the East!

  13. Dimitri says:

    Go Sixers! Executive of the year. I don’t know how much more perfect things could have gone for us. I have to wonder what the hell Indiana is thinking, but whatever, as long as I don’t have to see Evan Turner taking horrible shots, making bad decisions, being a volume shooter with terrible efficiency, and somehow being a 6 ft 7 guy who can’t play defense…..I’m ecstatic.

    Granger will get bought out and go play for San Antonio or Miami or something, and we will draft well and be back on top in a few years. Get ready for philly domination.

  14. jdub455 says:

    Bird is a hell of a competitor no matter where u put him… this is a very good trade indeed. But will need more time to mesh. The heat have been together for a long time. This is why teams like em and the spurs know how to find ways to win no matter hw strong the other team is. Hoping that im right coz im a heat fan. Lol.

  15. bob ellison says:

    Bird lives!

    And I don’t mean Charlie Parker . . .

  16. Bird33 says:

    Go Legend Go. We’re looking forward to seeing your squad pound the little Heat into dust in the ECF and then hoisting the Larry OBrien trophy after winning the Finals. And I’m also looking forward to celebrating another brilliant brushstroke on your career masterpiece.

    Plus it will be great to see Big Roy realize his dream from the 3rd grade 🙂

  17. Desmodeus says:

    I can see what Indiana get out of this. I’m not so sure I see what Philly gets out of it. I guess some veteran leadership for their young up and comers but only if Granger decides to stick around.

  18. Jerry Ries says:

    I like Turner’s numbers, esp the 6 rebounds per game. I’m a Celtic fan who remembers LaVoy Allen being a problem in a playoff series a couple of years back. I don’t see Granger re-signing with Philly so I don’t know what this does for them. But I would be curious as to what the Miami brain trust thinks of this. Bird is clearly aiming for them, and he already had a pretty good hand. He may have made it better today — time will tell.

    • w says:

      I dont think philly wants him either.

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      I think Indiana’s mixing it up too much. And i think this was a bad move. You gotta remember Turner’s numbers were on a bad team. And also note that the pacers had the best record even if they thought Granger’s numbers were weak.

      Now they are messing with something that already works. It can get awkward fitting this many new pieces into a lineup after half the season has been played…

      I think the Heat will still emerge out of the East. I gotta admit i was worried before the all star game, but watching them play vs. OKC it shows they can beat a taller and longer team with their speed and quickness. I’d worry if I were coach Vogel after watching that game.