Danny Granger: Why It's Time for Indiana Pacers to Trade the Small Forward

Ryan ReedCorrespondent IIJuly 16, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24:  Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 24, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Heat defeated the Pacers 105-93 to win the series. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Danny Granger has proven to be an effective scorer for the Pacers, averaging 18.2 points per game over the last seven years. He has also been a consistent rebounder, with a career average of 5.2 per game.

While it’s hard to think about trading a 29-year-old forward who averaged better than 18 points per game last year, it's time for the Pacers to discuss it.

In the last four years, Granger’s points per game have dropped from 25.8 to 18.7. While Danny is shooting the ball less as his team has added better scorers around him, his field-goal percentage has also dropped to 41.6 percent from 44.7 percent four years ago.

Granger is also slated to make more than $13 million next year and $14 million the year after that. That’s too much for a scoring small forward whose role has continually diminished.

The Pacers should actively try to trade Danny Granger this year, because he still seems to be worth something. He has shown he can score a lot of points for a team that doesn’t have many other options, like Indiana before they gained strength.

What Indiana should do with Granger is either trade him for a combination of draft picks and expiring contracts or attempt to trade him for a shooting guard. If they go with the first route, the Pacers should actively attempt to sign either Courtney Lee or O.J. Mayo to go along with Paul George.

While this will cause many fans to shake their heads, as George currently plays shooting guard, he is better suited as a small forward. His shooting ability isn’t outstanding, and he is much bigger than a standard shooting guard. He gives the team flexibility, because he can guard both shooting guards and small forwards.

The team also just added Gerald Green, which gives them another young shooting guard who put up almost 13 points per game last year, including shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. He is also a tall guard who can play both shooting guard and small forward, allowing the Pacers more versatility with their lineups.

With Green's acquisition, the Pacers would probably benefit more from acquiring high draft picks, since they will have D.J. Augustine and George Hill at point guard and Green and George at shooting guard and small forward.

The team also has Lance Stephenson in reserve. He hasn’t played many minutes, but has had a strong showing in the Orlando summer league this offseason. They only need one more swing-man through free agency to make that a very deep lineup.

The Pacers should trade Granger now, because he is beginning to enter the downside of his career and his trade value is the highest it likely will ever be. His absence will also likely allow Paul George to have the breakout season that everybody is waiting for from him.

While it is always a hard decision to trade a former franchise player like Granger, the Pacers would be wise to do so now.