July 7, 2006
Granger eyes a starting spot
Summer league games offer chances to show he can replace Stojakovic at small forward
By Mike Wells
Shortly after he learned Peja Stojakovic wasn't returning to the Indiana Pacers, Danny Granger's phone started ringing.
His agent called. So did family and friends. They all said the same thing, something that had already crossed his mind. "I've got a chance to be the starting small forward next season," Granger said Thursday. "I have to go out and show I can be a consistent starter at that spot."
Stojakovic agreed to a five-year, $64 million deal with New Orleans last weekend.
Granger can take several steps toward being the team's starting small forward next season by having a strong offseason, which includes five games in the Orlando Summer League next week.
"As Danny continues to grow, we need him to become a better pick-and-roll player, become a better post-up player, work on his shots," assistant coach Chuck Person said. "We're going to give Danny every opportunity to do those things in the summer league."
Granger began last season behind Ron Artest at small forward. Granger was thrust into the starting lineup sooner than expected when Artest was placed on the inactive list after saying he wanted to be traded in December.
Granger returned to the bench when the team acquired Stojokavic in late January. Granger's versatility allowed coach Rick Carlisle to use him in different ways. Granger's natural position is small forward, but Carlisle also played him at power forward and at shooting guard at times during the playoffs against New Jersey.
Granger ended his first NBA season averaging 7.5 points and 4.9 rebounds.
"When you come to the NBA it's so much different than college," he said. "It was just a different world. I'll be more consistent my second year."
With the Pacers attempting to become a more athletic, up-tempo team, Granger will spend time next week in Orlando playing shooting guard. "We feel like he can play in the backcourt and hopefully (first-round pick) Shawne (Williams) will grow and we'll be able to play those two guys together at the two and three (positions) or maybe three and four," Person said.
Players miss Croshere
Granger and center David Harrison were together Wednesday when they heard Austin Croshere was being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. "I think it's a huge loss. That's more of a personal feeling," Harrison said. "Austin had been here for nine years. He contributed a lot to Indianapolis. I'm personally going to miss him. My first two years here, I don't think I would have made it without Cro. It's a business of basketball, though."
The trade of Croshere to Dallas for guard Marquis Daniels won't become official until the moratorium period ends Wednesday.
"Even though we shared minutes, he was a great teammate," Granger said.
"On the road, he was one of the older guys that helped me with some of the rookie things I was going through."
Draft picks sign
The Pacers signed their two draft picks, Williams and James White, to contracts Thursday.
Williams has a two-year guaranteed contract with two one-year team options.
Second-round picks don't automatically get guaranteed contracts, but the Pacers gave White, who was picked No. 31 by Portland then traded to the Pacers on draft night, a guaranteed two-year deal.
Pacers officials said they would have drafted White at No. 17 if Williams was no longer available.
Intresting that they are still going to play Granger at shooting guard in the Summer league.