If that's really the case, the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers (among others) should do whatever it takes to make sure he's in their uniform by the end of the Feb. 21 deadline on Thursday afternoon.
The latest from Alex Kennedy puts Granger firmly on the block, or at least firmly out of the safe zone:
Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA
The Pacers no longer consider Danny Granger untouchable, according to rival executives. Granger could be moved: http://t.co/AGv7qxfWgz2/20/2013, 10:17:12 PM
While Granger is a former All-Star, he's also been usurped by Paul George in terms of immediate value. At least that's the report from many league pundits with knowledge of the situation. They feel that George's value has already made Granger's salary next year ($13-plus million) expendable in a potential trade.
If that report is true, teams should start picking up the phone right now and asking the Pacers what it's going to take to get Granger to town by Friday morning.
However, Kennedy is also reporting that Granger's knee injury might be more severe than team doctors originally estimated. In addition to patellar tendinitis, sources close to the situation have said that he may also have a small hole in his knee cartilage—the reason why he hasn't yet played in 2012-13.
Even so, the Pacers are now at a crossroads with respect toward Granger's future with the team. Here's the teams that would benefit from his services the most and would offer Indiana equal value with what they have to offer in return.
Dallas was one of the first teams to "keep the powder dry," but they've long been interested in Granger and would be able to fit him in nicely with the right pieces going back to Indiana in exchange.
Although Shawn Marion plays the same position and has a contract ($9 million next season) similar to what Granger would be bringing to the table, a starting lineup that included Granger, Dirk Nowitzki, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo (considering that he re-signs) would provide the kind of youth and athleticism that Dallas has long lacked.
Sometimes, you have to play the hand that you're dealt.
Instead of waiting for Howard to make the decision to re-sign with L.A. (a move he'll make for the same reasons Deron Williams chose Brooklyn over Dallas), why not take a chance on having three All-Star caliber players in your lineup next season?
If Dallas sent a future first-round pick, the expiring contract of Chris Kaman and one of the team's young guards (Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones), this deal might gain some legs. Include Vince Carter, and maybe the Mavs ask for D.J. Augustin or Jeff Pendergraph to be included.
Either way, Dallas has been looking for a "star" for quite some time. Granger is available, and general manager Donnie Nelson needs to make the phone call to see what kind of package it would take to bring him to town. Cap room is a big deal in Dallas, and that might be the only reason the Mavs stay quiet with respect to Indiana.
The Cavs own a ton of draft picks, have salary to play with based on current youngsters Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters still sitting with rookie contracts and are really just a solid wing player away from making a serious dent in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, the Cavs have had another down year, but adding Granger to the mix would give them a core that would look like this:
- Irving, Waiters, Granger, Marreese Speights, Anderson Varejao
If that doesn't smell at least a playoff berth, then the NBA really is more talented than ever before.
By adding Granger to the current mix, the Cavs would add some veteran leadership and a player that knows how to win. He could help mentor Irving and Waiters, the former of who is having no problems lighting up teams on a nightly basis.
C.J. Miles could head back to Indiana and help the Pacers add some much-needed scoring punch from the 2-guard position heading into the playoffs since he is a player that has both playoff experience and a knack for being a quick scorer. Throw in Josh Selby, a first-round pick, and Luke Walton's expiring contract—things look good on paper for both sides.
The Jazz have been looking to move one of their two big men—Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap—for quite some time. Using one of those two players to get Granger makes a lot of sense.
Utah managed to dump Devin Harris for Marvin Williams, but the bust from North Carolina isn't an option long term for the Jazz whereas Granger could be.
The Jazz have the right pieces in place to make a deal. Randy Foye and Millsap heading to the Pacers would give them plenty of muscle and scoring heading into the playoffs to take on powerhouses like the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, and a deal would also give Granger a fresh start in the process.
It's clear that Granger has fallen out of favor with the Pacers (for whatever reason) and it's time for the two sides to part ways. If these teams are smart, they'll dial the phone sooner rather than later and see if this former All-Star could once again blossom in their system going forward.
Knee injuries are a scary thing—just look at Brandon Roy—but I'd wager to say that with a medical exam and the right deal in place, Granger's value will be somewhat similar to what it was when he was lighting folks up on a nightly basis.
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