Following their defeat against the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers must make a lot of decisions during the 2013 offseason. One of the major ones centers around Danny Granger, the high-scoring small forward who missed most of the 2012-13 campaign.
Should the Pacers trade Granger? Should they keep him and his $14 million expiring contract?
That will be the subject of a lot of conversation in the Indiana front office, and for good reason. Granger is an appealing trade asset because he can still make positive contributions on both ends of the court, and he'll be a free agent in 2014.
Teams can either trade for him to shore up their lineup for a run at a title, or they can deal for his contract, freeing up cap space for next summer.
Indiana's elimination is still too fresh for there to be any legitimate Granger rumors, but here are five possibilities for this offseason.
Potential Trade: Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Danny Granger and Orlando Johnson
The Los Angeles Clippers appeared to be one piece away from advancing much further into the Western Conference playoffs this year, and small forward is the biggest weakness in the lineup.
Granger would immediately fill that hole, giving the team some scoring on the wing and a great deal of defense from the spot. Remember, he led the Indiana Pacers in scoring during the 2011-12 season while holding opposing 3s to a PER of just 12.7, according to 82games.com.
Acquiring Granger would do a great job of convincing Chris Paul that this team is dedicated to winning, and retaining CP3 is entirely necessary if the Clippers want to trade away Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe is a major trade chip for L.A., which is why Orlando Johnson is included in this trade as well. Granger alone isn't quite enough.
A former UC Santa Barbara standout, Johnson had a solid rookie season in limited action, and he could develop into a great scoring threat off the bench. I was high on him going into the draft, and I remain high on him after his first professional season.
Indiana also wouldn't mind adding a point guard like Bledsoe, as he'd push George Hill for the starting job almost immediately. D.J. Augustin was not very good coming off the bench, and the Pacers could use another quality ball-handler.
Potential Trade: Ekpe Udoh and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for Granger
The Milwaukee Bucks could use an upgrade at small forward, and Ekpe Udoh fits in perfectly with the Pacers' defensive mentality.
Udoh is an incredible interior defender; he just hasn't been given an opportunity to showcase his skills in a larger role quite yet.
During the 2012-13 season, the Bucks prevented points even more successfully when the big man was on the court. When Udoh played, Milwaukee's defense allowed 101.2 points per 100 possessions, but when he sat, that number rose to 102.8, according to NBA.com's statistical databases.
What makes that truly impressive is that Udoh commonly replaced Larry Sanders, who used this last season as a springboard toward becoming one of the league's best interior defenders. He may not be a household name, but Udoh really is a difference maker on that end of the court.
This is by no means a glamorous trade for the Pacers, but it's a savvy one. Bringing Udoh and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute aboard would create an even stronger second unit and make re-signing Tyler Hansbrough, who enters the offseason as a restricted free agent, ultimately unnecessary.
Potential Trade: Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea and the No. 9 pick for Granger
Looks like TWolves will try to deal Derrick Williams and No. 9 pick to move up in NBA draft.
— Charley Walters (@Charley_Walters) June 3, 2013
The common assumption is that the Wolves desire a higher draft pick so that they can add to their collection of wing players, this time drafting one who's big enough to actually match up against opponents. Shabazz Muhammad has been mentioned numerous times as a target.
Well, if Muhammad is worth the No. 9 pick and D-Will, why not Danny Granger? After all, the latter is significantly more established and could immediately make positive contributions in Minnesota.
It's a move that makes sense for both teams, as the Pacers could move up quite a bit in the draft while adding another high-potential player to their frontcourt.
J.J. Barea is being included to make salaries work, as Granger's contract would prevent a deal from occurring otherwise.
Potential Trade: Jason Richardson and Evan Turner for Granger
The Pacers need to add quality ball-handlers to their rotation, and Turner certainly qualifies as such, despite not lining up at point guard.
One of the few major flaws in Paul George's game is the lack of care he displays when dribbling, and having him remain the primary ball-handler when playing with the second-unit guys is problematic going forward.
Adding Turner would help solve that problem, and Richardson gives the Pacers another shooting option off the bench.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers, this move allows them to transition even more firmly into the rebuilding period. Giving up on Turner wouldn't be a big deal at this point, and adding Danny Granger's expiring contract gives them more financial flexibility for the 2014 offseason.
Plus, Granger would help the squad stay afloat before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
This never seems to get talked about, but it is possible for Danny Granger to remain on the Pacers.
This is Paul George's team now, and Granger would need to accept that, but he'd still have a place in the rotation. He and George could play together at times, creating a monstrously large group of wing players, but he could also fill in as a high-scoring sixth man, much as James Harden used to do for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Indiana was quite close to beating the Miami Heat, and Granger may have pushed them over the top. Having an established scorer in the second unit is certainly a valuable asset, and the Pacers could decide to give it one more shot.
After all, this is a low-risk, high-reward move.
Worst case, the Pacers flame out during the 2013-14 season and let Granger walk during the ensuing offseason, choosing to spend their money elsewhere. But the best-case scenario is much more positive.
If Granger meshes with the new rotation that was established in his absence, Indiana could potentially advance out of the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at a title.
Unless a deal blows away general manager Kevin Pritchard, there's no reason to trade away the former team-leader in points per game.