Danny Granger may finish out the season with a playoff team after all.
The soon-to-be free agent was shipped from the Indiana Pacers to the Philadelphia 76ers during the 11th hour of the NBA trade deadline last week, but the tanking 'Sixers didn't have a need for him on the court.
There was much speculation as to whether it would happen, but on Wednesday, David Aldridge of NBA.com confirmed that Philly will indeed buy out Granger's contract, making him a free agent:
The Philadelphia 76ers and forward Danny Granger reached agreement on a buyout Wednesday that will allow Granger to sign with another team and be eligible for the postseason.
Granger will now choose between elite playoff teams looking to add the best possible player available. According to sources, Granger is looking at five teams: the Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Heat and Spurs. He is expected to make his decision by Friday.
'Sixers general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie issued an official statement on the situation on Wednesday:
His accomplishments and accolades to this point of his NBA career more than speak for themselves, so I would like to express that I have a great deal of respect for Danny Granger as a person. The manner with which he carried himself throughout this process was professional, courteous and respectful, and speaks volumes about his character.
Following the completion of the trade on Thursday night, Danny traveled to Philadelphia and we had an opportunity to meet with him here. These were in addition to the open lines of communication with his agent Aaron Mintz and CAA while we worked through the next steps.
Given Danny's future goals and his desire to pursue them, we worked to fulfill his requests and have come to a resolution that we feel is mutually beneficial to both Danny and our organization.
We wish Danny the best in the next phase of his career.
Who will Granger sign with next?
The last two years have been a tough ride for the 30-year-old, a former All-Star who once upon a time looked like one of the best scorers in the league. Thanks to various injuries, however, he has played in just 34 regular-season games since the start of the 2012-13 season.
Furthermore, in 29 games with the Pacers this season, he was averaging just 8.3 points on an ugly 35.9-percent shooting in 22.5 minutes per contest.
Granger spoke to Aldridge about today's news:
A trade is never easy, especially when you have been with one team your entire career. But, the professionalism, honesty, time and care the Philadelphia 76ers spent on my situation made me feel appreciated and confident we would reach a mutually beneficial resolution. I would personally like to thank the 76ers, General Manager Sam Hinkie, head coach Brett Brown and the rest of their organization for taking the time to get to know me, understand what I am looking for, and help me to find a result that makes the most sense for my future, as well as their own. While my time with the 76ers was brief, it was clear to me that they have the vision, leadership and plan to be very successful. I feel extremely grateful and wish the 76ers all the best.
Despite his struggles, though, Granger is still an athletic wing—you can never really have too many of those—capable of playing a solid role off the bench for a team chasing the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Not only would he provide a nice boost to a team's second unit, but he also brings an important veteran locker-room presence, as evidenced by former teammate Paul George's comments, via The Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner, following the trade:
This is very emotional for me. Danny's been by my side even before I got drafted here. I understand it's business. (Team president) Larry (Bird) is looking forward to the future as well as the present. But it sucks.
It is tough. I wanted to call Danny and text Danny yesterday but I couldn't even do it. It was just tough for me to do yesterday. Today seeing him and saying my last goodbyes – I'll reach out obviously after we leave here, I'll reach out to him again. But it's tough, I'm going to have to find a way to get through it.
As for Granger's next stop, The Boston Globe's Jake Fischer lists the teams with the NBA's three best records (outside of Indiana) as probable suitors:
Again, per source, most around the NBA expect Danny Granger to sign with either San Antonio or Miami. OKC should also be in the mix.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 25, 2014
USA Today's Sean Highkin and CBS Sports' Matt Moore, however, suggest a different option in the form of the Phoenix Suns, who are currently eighth in the Western Conference, a game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 7 spot:
Said that on the pod today. Great minds. RT @highkin: Danny Granger should go to Phoenix.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 25, 2014
No matter what happens, it looks like Granger is going to have his choice of playoff teams as he gets another attempt to show off his value to potential offseason suitors.
And whoever lands his signature is getting a solid addition—for practically nothing—as we get set to enter the final stretch of the season.