Danny Granger’s return to the Indiana Pacers likely will be delayed a bit longer — although no one knows exactly how long.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said after practice Thursday that the strained calf suffered by Granger last week is worse than previously thought and he doubts the former All-Star forward will play in the team’s regular-season opener against Orlando on Tuesday.
“There’s a chance he could play (against the Magic), but it’s probably unlikely,” Vogel said.
Granger did not play in Tuesday’s 107-89 preseason victory at Atlanta and will not play Friday night in the Pacers’ preseason finale at Dallas. He missed all but five games last season because of a knee injury.
The calf strain, suffered Oct. 16 against Dallas, is not directly related to the knee injury, but Granger has not practiced for more than a week and Vogel is concerned that has kept the knee from being as strong as it needs to be.
“That could be what makes this more than a day-to-day thing,” Vogel said.
Granger refused to rule himself out for Tuesday, however.
“That’s why we keep saying ‘day to day.’ ” he said. “They’re kind of bringing me in to see how I’m feeling, so I don’t know.”
Granger had been the Pacers’ leading scorer for five consecutive years before last season. He is in the final year of his contract. Entering camp, he was in a close battle with Lance Stephenson — who replaced him in the starting lineup — for the fifth starting spot this season.
The setback with the calf ensures Stephenson will start, Vogel said.
“We’ll see where Danny is as he heals and that could change down the road,” Vogel said. “If Danny was healthy and playing great, and Lance is healthy and playing great, I could see stretches throughout the season where Lance was starting, and I could see stretches where Danny is starting.”
Those plans are on hold for now for the Pacers, who started the preseason with five losses before winning their past two.
“I’m real happy about my knee, honestly,” Granger said. “The calf is just a muscle strain. That’s not a big deal. ... I’ve been real happy because my knee has been just fine up till this point, so if I had to get hurt, I was glad that it was just a muscle strain, honestly.”
Vogel said he will stick to the regular lineup and rotations Friday night at Dallas, similar to what he will use during the regular season. There could be a few tweaks, though. Chris Copeland, whom the Pacers signed away from the New York Knicks, will get a look at small forward after being used at power forward for most of the preseason.
Starting guard George Hill said the Pacers are tired as the preseason concludes.
“I think it’s only because of the Global Games,” Hill said of the Pacers’ two exhibition games in Asia against the Houston Rockets. “I think it kind of messed (up) the schedule there, going over there, re-catching up on your sleep and the time difference.
“We’ve had six road games and just two home games. It’s been tough. But you want to use things like that to teach you how to fight through adversity.”