By my unofficial count, Danny Granger has been traded 1,637 times on Indiana Pacers message boards. Traded for Eric Gordon. Traded for a fun-pack of Cheetos. Traded constantly.
Which is why it's probably good that Larry Bird runs the Indiana Pacers, and not Joe From Kokomo or Cheezy Beef.
It's time to stop talking about all the things Granger doesn't do really well and talk, at least for one minute, about the thing he does really well:
Like he did Thursday night, scoring 32 points in the Pacers' 93-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The guy will drive the message-board denizens mad (sometimes Bird and coach Frank Vogel, too), but when the game is on the line, there is nobody else on this team who is better suited to win a game.
"Any time somebody is sort of the face of the franchise that isn't winning, like we hadn't won for a couple of years, they're going to nitpick every little thing he doesn't do,'' Vogel said. "But you've got to appreciate what he does do.''
Here's when some of us knew that the Pacers could not afford to move Granger: last year's playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, when Granger averaged 21.6 points and never scored fewer than 19 against the best defensive team in the league.
The playoffs are a different animal than the regular season. Defenses take away your first option, your second and your third. Enter Granger.
"You can run all the action you want, but a lot of possessions come down to the last few seconds of the shot clock, and you've got to have a guy who can create his own,'' Vogel said. "And we've got a few of those.''
Over time, Paul George has a chance to be one of those guys, but for now, he's still not assertive enough on a consistent basis. On nights like Thursday, he's expending all his energy on the other end of the floor slowing Nets guard Deron Williams.
The Pacers' blessing and curse are the same thing: They don't have a mega-star who can take over in the final moments like a D-Wade or a Kobe or, when he feels like it, LeBron James. Granger is as close to being that player as the Pacers have.
Yet the next time Granger has one of those 6-for-20 games, Noblesville Marty will deal him for a dented rim.
"Nature of the beast,'' Granger said, laughing. "Nature of sports. People are always trying to find something. I understand that.''
Fans have got to be a little bit patient before they move Granger to Cleveland for the Ghost of Paul Mokeski: This is the first time in his career he's been surrounded by teammates who can score. This is a transition.
"This is much easier,'' Granger said. "It's nice. I don't have to go out there and try to score 25. I can rely on other guys and do other things to help us win.''
OK, so Granger is not a superstar. He's a jump stop short of being a star. There are still too many things he doesn't do well. He is a "volume shooter,'' another stupid term that makes me more ornery than dyspeptic referee Joey Crawford.
But with the game on the line, the Pacers hanging on to a tenuous 88-84 lead, Granger took the ball strong to the basket, and while he missed the shot, he broke down New Jersey's defense. Roy Hibbert got the rebound and got fouled on the follow. Ballgame.
In a normal 82-game schedule, there aren't all that many big games. In the condensed 66-game schedule, they're all big, and they're only getting bigger with the newly-revitalized Knicks and the evergreen Boston Celtics coming up behind the Pacers.
The Pacers have to make things happen and they need to do it now, looking at the softest schedule stretch of the season.
Get this: The Pacers' next five games will come against three teams who came into Thursday night with a combined record of 20-64.
"This is a chance for us to rip off a couple of wins in a row,'' Granger said.
If the Pacers had fallen to New Jersey, the panic might have set in, especially for a team that began to see some of the old locker room infighting creeping back.
Asked about his team's five-game losing streak before the game, Vogel said, "Quite honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact we're a big game for teams now. We're not the Indiana Pacers, the .500 or sub-.500 team, another night on the schedule. We're one of the elite teams in the league and they're bringing their best.''
OK, elite is an overstatement at 18-12. But they're pretty good.
So unless Orlando wants to ship Dwight Howard here for Granger, the Pacers would be best to hold on tightly and let this team grow together.
Until Granger's next 6-for-20 game.
Then all bets are off.
The Indianapolis Star. Call him at
(317) 444-6643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Bob on Twitter at @bkravitz.
Well at least Bob admits he reads the Pacers message boards. Hi Bob.