Just when it seemed like the NBA trade deadline had yielded nothing but a handful of minor moves, the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers exchanged pieces that actually have a modicum of household-name recognition.
Indiana has traded Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2014
Granger's name used to have even more recognition. The 30-year-old averaged as many as 25.8 points per game back in 2008-09. He followed up the career year with two more seasons producing more than 20 points per contest, helping usher in a winning era for the Pacers that's finally beginning to yield postseason dividends.
Unfortunately for Granger, he won't be around to reap any further rewards—at least not in Indiana.
While life in Philly would be trying for the former star, there's no guarantee he'll stick around for long.
Also, Granger could become another buyout candidate.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 20, 2014
Rumor is 76ers SF Danny Granger will be bought out of his contract and the Clippers will be the runner up to sign him. #Clippers— Frank13 (@RealFrank13) February 20, 2014
But there's a good case to be made that he should stick around—even if it means foregoing an opportunity to win in Los Angeles.
Now playing out the final season of a deal currently paying him over $14 million, remaining with the Sixers would give Granger ample opportunity to improve his value on the open market. He'd find no shortage of minutes and shot attempts on a roster that's going nowhere fast, potentially positioning him for one last big payday.
It might not seem that way looking at his numbers of late, but that's precisely because he's lacked the kind of opportunity he'd find in Philadelphia. Granger still has the makeup to be an impact player. He's long, can rebound and is managing to shoot 33 percent from behind the arc despite a limited role in which rhythm has eluded him (22.5 minutes per game this season).
With the Sixers, Granger could play himself back into form and regenerate interest in his services when he hits the open market. In Los Angeles, he'd have to compete for minutes with the likes of Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes and a handful of lesser swingmen—essentially facing the same obstacles that derailed his post-injury career in Indiana.
There's no telling just how much Granger would cash in, either in terms of performance or what that performance earns him in free agency. But to whatever extent finances guide his decision, spending the remainder of the season inflating his statistics and showing off his ability seems logical enough.
That said, logic and dollars alike are of little consolation when losing. The Sixers' record sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, just ahead of the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks.
Granger may well decide he's already a rich enough man and pursue a title elsewhere.
It's certainly possible his decision won't have to do with money or winning. Granger could see a future in Philadelphia if he's willing to facilitate its rebuild as the resident veteran. He'd have to re-sign for significantly less than he's making now, but that's probably true wherever he winds up in 2014-15—but it could happen.
The more likely scenario may indeed involve a buyout. Going to a team like the Clippers and pursuing a title isn't necessarily mutually exclusive with pursuing those future dollars. Other teams may be more inclined to watch what he does in the playoffs than what he does for the Sixers. Even if his overall numbers remain modest, perhaps the real question is what he can do for a good team when big games are on the line.
Those sort of statements have certainly earned players big contracts in the past.
There's also the possibility that Granger will turn around and thrive with a high-octane offensive attack and someone like Chris Paul feeding him the rock. Good as Indiana is, the offense doesn't even begin to resemble what's going down in L.A. Nor is there much in common between Paul and George Hill.
Playing with an offense that runs and spreads the floor could be even more valuable to Granger's stock than playing with a team that eschews depth and talent like the plague.
Of course, the Clippers aren't the only post-buyout option either.
Danny granger buyout then to Miami. Watch— Daniel Artest (@DMArtestQB) February 20, 2014
Hard as it would be to imagine Granger signing with the team he antagonized not all that long ago, it wouldn't be the strangest thing we've seen happen. Ray Allen saw past the former rivalry when he jumped ship, and it wouldn't be unreasonable for Granger to do the same.
Nor would it be inconceivable to fortify the wing in either Oklahoma City or San Antonio, giving either team another defender to throw at LeBron James when the NBA Finals roll around. He could even join the suddenly dangerous Portland Trail Blazers and back up Nic Batum. Each scenario would situate Granger in a potent offense where he could do considerable damage in spite of limited minutes.
For a guy who's been relatively buried on a team he helped build, Granger now appears to have some options. What he does with those options ultimately depends on what he values, but the future looks bright for him—one way or the other.