View Full Version : Granger found in trade rumors despite success

03-11-2012, 11:29 PM

MIAMI - When it's 3:01 p.m. EDT Thursday, then Danny Granger can relax.

Seemingly, every year the Indiana forward has found his name in trade rumors. But if you think Granger has his guard down this year because the Pacers finally have a winning team for the first time in his seven-year career, you'd be wrong.

"Possibly," Granger said before scoring 19 points in Saturday's 93-91 overtime loss to Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena about whether he believes he could dealt by Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. "You don't know with the NBA. Trades can always happen. Sometimes they're expected, sometimes they're not expected. So you just got to play on."

Granger isn't anticipating being dealt. He figures if that were the case, Indiana president Larry Bird would have said something to him.

"Probably not going to happen," Granger said. "But who knows? You never know what can happen."

The Pacers, after all, do have emerging second-year man Paul George, who is now starting at shooting guard and could be groomed to one day to replace Granger at a more natural position of small forward. And Granger, making $13 million next season and $14 million in 2012-13, has a salary Indiana might not mind one day dumping.

As for Granger, he wants to stay. After suffering through all those losing seasons, the Pacers are 23-15 entering Sunday night's game at Orlando.

"Yeah, that would be ideal," said Granger, still not sounding certain he'll still be around after Thursday's deadline. "But, like I said, in the NBA trades happen all the time and when they do, you just kind of keep going."

What isn't going the way it once did is an eye-popping scoring average from Granger. He averaged as many as 25.8 points during his All-Star season of 2008-09 and also was over 20 in each of the previous two seasons.

But Granger this year is down to 18.1. It hasn't helped that he's shooting a career-low 38.7 percent, but the Pacers also have more offensive weapons now with the acquisition of power forward David West and continued offensive development by center Roy Hibbert, an All-Star last month, and George.

"He's really been great about adjusting his role and not having to be the go-to guy and the volume shooter, and just letting the defense dictatate the shots and the ball movement dictate the shots rather than forcing too much," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Granger. "He's been great from that standpoint, just being unselfishness and a team player."

For a half decade in Indiana, Granger was clearly the man on offense. But it didn't translate into winning.

Granger did go to the playoffs as a rookie in 2005-06, when the Pacers went 41-41 and were ousted in the first round. But that team was going downhill. Optimism really didn't start to return to the organization until late season, when the Pacers replaced Jim O'Brien with Vogel, made a run to finish 37-45 and gave Chicago a nice battle in the first round before losing 4-1.

Granger still leads Indiana this season in scoring. But the Pacers are one of the most team-oriented gangs in the NBA, with seven players averaging nine or more points.

"I don't have to do as much offensively," Granger said. "As long as the wins come, I don't care… It's an awesome feeling (finally being on a winner). You suffer through a lot over the past years, and we had the brawl and they had to clean shop, and it's good to see it turn all back around now."

It's been more than seven years since the November 2004 brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which included then Pacers forward Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) charging into the stands and being suspended for the rest of the season. The Pacers ended up have other disciplinary problems with players, and now they finally have recovered.

Bird remained patient in his rebuilding of the team. And now Bird has a chance to become the first man in NBA history to have won MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

"He's endured the struggles, as I have and some of the people who have been with us for the last few years," Vogel, who arrived as an assistant in 2007, said when asked about Granger finally being on a winner. "Being on those losing teams, not being able to get over the hump, and to finally get up to where we have a good record, we're a winning team. We understand we still got to finish strong, but I'm very, very happy for Danny and he's thrilled to just be a part of it."

Nevertheless, after enduring all those rugged years, Granger doesn't feel certain he'll still be around past next Thursday.

03-11-2012, 11:31 PM