In the NBA, there is a contractual element that can affect the value of any player. It's not an issue of whether or not a player is good, it's is he good relative to his salary. Austin Croshere, Al Harrington, and Jonathon Bender all went through that process with the Pacers, and with all of them on the same roster behind Jalen Rose then Ron Artest it took too long to determine their value.
No team wants to give up on a player too early, i.e. Jermaine O'Neal and Portland, and worse, they don't want to be the 'next team' to give up on a kid. The fear of losing a player is far worse than sticking with one who doesn't quite live up.
Three 'tweeners coming off the bench was one too many. Good subs in the NBA often get 25-30 minutes on average. It seemed clear to me Croshere was definitely a second team defender and a special situations player. Rotate him early vs. the other team's 2nd PF, create matchup problems on the other end, and use him in situations where his shooting can create space.
Bender had the most potential but was frail. Still, he had a year or two early where he was able get minutes. Harrington always wanted to start, and he was the one who was able to step up.
The log jam three years ago killed any shot at Indiana getting much for Bender or Croshere (minus the Antoine Walker flirtation). The backcourt depth suffered, and while I like Jax, I'm not sure he is ultimately the best fit with this lineup. Harrington is dealt, for Jax, but last year's turn of events just killed any shot any sense of normalcy.
Enter Granger. Granger is an absolute steal at this point, but with Croshere and Bender on the roster with inflated contracts, how are they going to develop any sort of value? They have two years left on their contracts. That can be valuable to a team looking to clear some cap space in the future. Not that the Pacers want to be burdened with salary, but it's a nice chip to have to get additional help.
Granger, Bender, and Croshere all need minutes. It would be nice if Bender could stay healthy to the point of showing he has a future here, or showing he can be used to fetch help at another position. Croshere has probably shot his wad in terms of value, but he has provided some pretty important play for the Pacers over the years, especially when Isaiah Thomas isn't coaching him. Granger may indeed be the future for this franchise at the forward spot. I don't get the impression he's going to be "injured" as has been the past for others.
I'd like to see the Pacers get a real shooter who can start. It would put the roster where it should have been last year, balancing out the positions. It won't please Jackson, but he would be PERFECT off the bench. He can play both wing positions. He's just as much of a 'tweener as the forwards above. Coming off the bench, he could still 30+ minutes.
With the depth the Pacers have, the best thing for them to do is balance their roster out and add a shooter behind or in front of Jackson. The prototype would be Ray Allen, and behind him would be Michael Redd, Richard Hamilton, or a Joe Johnson. I'm not suggesting any of these players are available. Behind Jackson could be Mike Miller or Cuttino Mobley.
It would have been nice to parlay of this depth toward a Martell Webster or Francisco Garcia in the draft as an additional pick.