The FIBA World Championship hasn't exactly been a coming-out party for Danny Granger. In fact, he's been something of a bit player on the international stage.
Granger was the only player on the U.S. roster that did not appear in the 89-79 victory over Russia today in the quarterfinals in Istanbul, Turkey. It's the second DNP-CD of the event for the Pacers' star, who has averaged 13.2 minutes and 5.8 points, shooting 12-of-29 (.414) overall and 3-of-12 (.250) from the 3-point line in his five appearances. He has seven assists but just six rebounds, the fewest on the team.
Granger has been stuck behind Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay in Coach Mike Krzyzewski's rotation. Seeking to find the reasons why, I reached out to media experts that have been covering the U.S. team.
"I think that defense probably has something to do with it, but it’s also just a numbers game," said John Schuhmann of NBA.com. "There are 12 good players on the roster, and only nine or 10 of them can realistically be in the rotation. In 2008, it was (Carlos) Boozer, (Tayshaun) Prince and (Michael) Redd that didn’t get much playing time.
"But there could still be an opportunity for Danny to make an impact. If the team needs an offensive boost and Rudy Gay is struggling, I can see Krzyzewski bringing in Danny to put some points on the board. I remember Prince giving the U.S. a lift with a couple of big plays in the gold medal game two years ago in spot duty."
Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com said he didn't expect much opportunity for Granger because of the depth of the roster.
"It was down to him and (Rajon) Rondo for the last cut, and Rondo made the decision easy by quitting," Sheridan said. "At this point, Granger and Rudy Gay are somewhat superfluous, and Rudy has been pretty darn good in an energizer role off the bench.
"Granger was hurt during the lead-up to the tournament, so he never really got to establish himself in a role. There's always one guy on the U.S. team who is an All-Star but rarely plays (see Carlos Boozer, 2008 Olympics), and Granger is that guy this year.
Fanhouse.com's Chris Tomasson said Granger has been the victim of "a numbers game."
"Granger is a scorer at forward, and Team USA has Kevin Durant, the NBA scoring leader," said Tomasson. "Plus, Iguodala and Gay are playing well at forward. And Iguodala does more things overall than Granger. It looked coming in as if Granger could slide a good bit to power forward due to Team USA being a bit weak in the post. But Kevin Love has been more efficient than perhaps some believed.
"Coming to Europe three weeks ago, Team USA's greatest strength looked to be at guard. The guards have been up and down but the forwards have overall been quite solid. So Granger hasn't been able to get big minutes."
Opportunities are dwindling. The U.S. faces the winner of the Argentina-Lithuania matchup in the semifinals Saturday. The championship game will be played Sunday.
Fast breaks …
The Pacers may have been close to acquiring a talented young power forward but a potential three-team deal involving New York and Portland reportedly was squashed by none other than Donnie Walsh of the Knicks, according to Hoopsworld.com. The deal would've brought Anthony Randolph from New York to the Pacers, with Indiana sending a first-round pick to Portland and the Blazers shipping Rudy Fernandez to the Knicks. Walsh reportedly passed because he didn't want to give up on the athleticism, versatility and potential of the 6-11 Randolph.
After New Orleans voided a contract claiming he failed a physical in mid-July, Luther Head apparently has settled for a non-guaranteed deal with Sacramento, reports Yahoo! Sports. Head's contract with the Hornets was offered by former GM Jeff Bower but rescinded after Bower was replaced by Hugh Weber, citing a failed physical. Head played in 47 games for the Pacers last season, averaging 7.6 points.