The Indiana Pacers knew they would start the season without Danny Granger as he recovered from a knee injury sustained in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals. He was out indefinitely, but the team hoped to get him back on the court soon.
That won't be the case.
The Pacers released a statement updating his status.
GRANGER UPDATE - on.nba.com/PBu3uV - Danny received an injection to treat left patellar tendinosis. Recovery is approximately 3 months.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 7, 2012
The time line for his return could have him in action on February 8, a home game against the Toronto Raptors. He'd miss exactly 50 games by that point.
Indiana had plans to improve upon their postseason seed and playoff performance this season. If Granger's status doesn't significantly improve, they will struggle to make the playoffs.
Indiana lost to the Charlotte Bobcats, who are 1-2 on the season. They are now just six wins shy of last season's production.
Assuming the Pacers continue their current .400 winning percentage, they will be 20-30 when Granger returns. They would likely need to go 22-10 (.688 winning percentage) after his return to secure the last playoff spot.
Indiana played at a .636 clip last season. That rate would get them to 40-42, not likely good enough to make the playoffs.
It is hard to carry any expectations for the team this season. They don't have a contingency plan in place.
The Pacers have already reached out to the agent of free agent swingman Mickael Pietrus as a possible replacement in the lineup— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) November 7, 2012
Check that—they don't have a workable contingency plan in place. Pietrus is worthy of a spot on many benches, but he's hardly a replacement candidate for a team's leading scorer.
Indiana will need to turn to the other starters on their roster to pick up the slack. They won't be able to fill Granger's spot and get anywhere near the same type of production.
The scoring needs will slide to George Hill, but there is only so much additional work the Pacers can do from perimeter scoring.
The pressure will fall to Paul George as he transitions into a small forward role. This doesn't look like a successful venture.
Yes, George is athletic and has had some success with situational play. But he would need to generate his own looks and scoring opportunities as a swingman. He has never been called upon to do this.
Rob Mahoney of SI.com has sincere concerns with George in this role.
There’s a reason why George, despite having both a size and speed advantage against most of his opponents, has yet to average more than 15 points per 36 minutes. He shoots and finishes but doesn’t create. He spent the summer working on his dribble-drive game, but so far that practice hasn’t translated to George’s NBA performance or much helped the Pacers’ currently miserable offense in any significant way. It’s a quaint thought and a sound effort, but at this point it only adds to the potential that George has yet to realize.
The Pacers won't be able to replace Granger's production and will struggle until he is back and in playing shape. There may only be 22 games left at that point and their season could be over by then.
Pacer fans should brace for a disappointing season.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.