Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Danny Granger
Danny Granger is a free man, liberated from a Philadelphia 76ers team that has no interest in employing capable veterans not named Thaddeus Young.
Per Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Sixers bought out Granger on Feb. 26:
Granger is scheduled to clear waivers Friday at 5 p.m. after the Sixers announced that they had released the 30-year-old, mere days after acquiring him in a last-minute deal just before the NBA's annual trade deadline last week for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.
And TNT's David Aldridge reports he'll have some suitors—including the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
There'll definitely be some interest from contending teams in need of a veteran on the wing, but don't expect any desperation or drooling. Remember, the Indiana Pacers shipped him out because they weren't confident he could help them as much as Turner and Allen.
There was some long-term thinking involved in swapping out Granger for two younger pieces, but the Pacers are in a position where every move is focused on one thing: winning a title. If they believed Granger would have been helpful in reaching that goal, he'd still be in Indy.
So, there's something we need to acknowledge about Granger up front: He's not a star anymore. In fact, he might not even be a rotation player.
Still, he's a veteran with a track record of solid play and a good reputation as a locker room leader. The way he handled Paul George's ascent into his vacant starring role speaks to the latter quality.
Having left a contender at the trade deadline, Granger will probably want to join a team occupying a spot in the league's upper echelon. That'll work fine, as those are precisely the kinds of outfits that could use his experience and skill in limited roles.
Don't rule out lesser squads, though. Granger might also want a larger dose of playing time so he can prove his health and up his value before hitting free agency this summer.
Let's run down Granger's options, listed alphabetically, for the season's stretch run.
There's some risk in joining the Chicago Bulls, especially for a player who has missed as much time as Granger has over the past couple of years.
Tom Thibodeau isn't going to take it easy on anybody, as evidenced by Mike Dunleavy playing all but nine seconds against the Hawks Feb. 25. The head coach's notorious overuse of his players (especially his wings) should give Granger pause.
At the same time, we know Granger is comfortable in an all-business environment that puts defense first. The Bulls mirror Indiana in those respects, so maybe a little taste of Central Division values will lure him to Chicago.
Plus, Granger's past numbers should appeal to the Bulls, as his career percentage from long distance would help shore up one of the team's biggest weaknesses.
Per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Tom Thibodeau said management is trying to find the right fit but the coach consistently has expressed a desire to add more shooting. Granger is a career 38.2 percent 3-point shooter."
The Bulls don't have nearly the championship ceiling as some of Granger's other options, but there's a lot to like about the fit in the Windy City.
With all due respect to Omri Casspi, Francisco Garcia and newly acquired Jordan Hamilton, the Houston Rockets aren't exactly flush with solid backups at the wing positions. There's no questioning the talents of Chandler Parsons and James Harden, but a little extra boost in the reserve three-and-D department couldn't hurt.
I know I already questioned Granger's ability to defend at a high level, but he's certainly a more capable stopper than either Hamilton or Casspi. And he's a much better all-around offensive threat than Garcia, whose PER of 9.8 makes him virtually unplayable for long stretches.
In addition, the Rockets don't really have the kind of even-keeled veteran leader most championship hopefuls need. Dwight Howard and Harden are the leaders on this roster, and while they offer plenty of on-court production, neither is a locker room sage.
Granger could bring a much-needed infusion of maturity and professionalism.
At the same time, he probably doesn't want to fill the role of babysitter on his new team. He'll already have plenty on his plate while trying to showcase his physical skills for a new contract and doing whatever he can to reach the finals. So maybe he'd balk at taking on the kind of role the Rockets would need him to fill.
Overall, though, Houston could provide Granger with a nice mixture of positives as he readies for the next phase of his career.
Los Angeles Clippers
When the Los Angeles Clippers brought in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley over the summer, they probably thought they'd solved their issues on the wing. Unfortunately, Redick is out indefinitely with a bulging disk, and Dudley hasn't found his stroke from the perimeter.
As such, L.A. needs a versatile perimeter player who can knock down a three once in a while.
Granger is (or at least was) a guy who fits that description, so it's no surprise Stein and Shelburne are reporting the Clips are one of the teams sharing the inside track in the race to sign him.
Plus, he could be particularly useful if the Clippers want to take DeAndre Jordan off the floor for stretches of fast-paced small ball, or at the end of games. We've seen Doc Rivers slot Matt Barnes into the power forward position at times this year, so it would stand to reason he'd give Granger a shot at a similar role.
Los Angeles is still within striking distance of a top seed out West, and it hasn't had trouble luring free agents lately. So expect a serious sales pitch from Rivers and Co.
The only problem here is Granger would likely have to square off against tough opposing wings if he were to play significant minutes. He's no longer an elite defender, as his injury history has sapped some of his quickness.
On balance, though, the Clips offer him a nice landing spot with a championship ceiling.
The Heat opened up a roster spot by trading Roger Mason Jr. to the Sacramento Kings at the deadline for virtually nothing. They didn't jettison the veteran guard for nothing.
The move was designed to create space for someone exactly like Granger—an experienced contributor who could fit right into a limited role. Miami is obviously the kind of contender Granger would prefer to join, but there are a couple of significant obstacles to overcome before he heads to South Beach.
First, there are other buyout options on the market who would probably come a bit cheaper than Granger. Caron Butler and Metta World Peace are both available after reaching separation agreements with their former teams, and either one of them could prove more enticing to the Heat than Granger.
Butler has a history with Miami, having played the first two years of his career there. Plus, he's been a bit more productive than Granger this season. And if the Heat want to add a little edge, MWP might be the better option.
Ultimately, it's difficult to imagine Granger defecting to the club that knocked his Pacers out of the postseason a year ago. Then again, maybe he'd relish the chance to be on the winning side of the inevitable Indiana-Miami clash in this year's playoffs.
If he's after a title (or revenge against his former team), the Heat would be a great spot for Granger.
Two words: training staff.
We're all familiar with the magical science (or is it scientific magic?) the Phoenix Suns' trainers have used to keep the roster inordinately healthy over the past decade. For a player with repeated knee problems and more than his fair share of surgeries in his recent past, the allure of the training room in Phoenix is probably strong.
The Suns offer a slightly different package than any of the other teams mentioned so far. There's no realistic championship chance here, but between the recuperative wonders the trainers can work and the ridiculous amount of offensive spacing Jeff Hornacek's scheme creates, Granger won't find a better place to prove he can still play.
Chasing titles is a worthy goal, but Granger also has to be concerned about playing well enough to draw a few multiyear offers when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer. Phoenix could afford him the opportunity to put up some impressive numbers over the season's final few weeks.
The safe bet is for Granger to hook on with a title contender, but don't rule out the Suns as a sneaky backup option.
San Antonio Spurs
Per Stein and Shelburne, the Spurs are right there alongside the Clippers as favorites to sign Granger.
This is a fit that just feels right. All we've ever heard about Granger is that he's a complete professional. He handled Paul George's ascent into his former role like a champ, and Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie lauded Granger's makeup in an official statement on NBA.com:
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.
Know where character and professionalism matters? San Antonio.
Granger should be in love with the idea of joining the Spurs. Every player who dons the silver and black seems to magically improve, and the careful minute-management head coach Gregg Popovich employs will certainly agree with Granger's balky knee.
We saw San Antonio take a flyer on Stephen Jackson two seasons ago right around this time of the year. Granger is younger, more realistic about his skills (It's hard to be less realistic than Captain Jack) and would certainly appreciate returning to a first-class organization after spending his entire career with one in Indy.
I'm not here to tell Granger what he should do, but it'd be hard to beat life in San Antonio.