Indiana Pacers' Loss of Danny Granger Is LA Clippers' Postseason Gain

Jim CavanContributor IMarch 15, 2014

Mar 8, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Danny Granger (33) walks back down the court against the Atlanta Hawks during the third quarter at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 109-108. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It made so much sense on its face: Jettison a hobbled, one-dimensional player on the wrong side of 30, get a younger, more versatile piece in return.

As far as trade-deadline strategies go, the Indiana Pacers dealing one-time cornerstone Danny Granger for dynamic Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner was a move met with near-universal acclaim.

And rightly so. Granger, who served as Indy’s main box-office attraction in the lean years leading up to today’s Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West-led Pacers, had struggled mightily in his attempt to shake out a slew of nagging injuries—a onetime star balling on borrowed time.

Mar 6, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers small forward Danny Granger (33) shoots a free throw against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Judging by the early returns, however, the Los Angeles Clippers might be the ones laughing all the way to the bank.

Notwithstanding his zero-point outing against the Utah Jazz on Friday night—a game L.A. won anyway, 96-87—Granger has given Clippers fans hope that the loss of J.J. Redick to a potentially season-ending back injury might not be an insurmountable one after all.

According to Dan Woike of the The Orange County Register, the Clippers brass is fast approaching a critical crossroads over whether to shelve the sweet-shooting Redick for the rest of the year.

The team will determine in the upcoming weeks whether Redick is healthy enough to rejoin the team. If he’s not, the club will likely shut Redick down for the rest of the season in an attempt to have him ready for training camp next year.

On a team that remains razor thin in the frontcourt, Granger gives coach Doc Rivers the best of two worlds: A knock-down shooter capable of draining an open look without a second thought, and a dose of size—however defensively-challenged—on an otherwise slight second unit.

The Pacers only wish they’d gotten that kind of production from the veteran swingman, who struggled mightily through 29 games before being dealt to the Sixers on Feb. 20.

Turner was supposed to give Indy the second-unit punch Granger couldn’t. But while his overall shooting efficiency has remained steady (46 percent overall and 50 percent from three-point range in his first 10 games), Turner’s impact has been statistically a negative one thus far.

To wit: Turner’s minus-8.3 plus-minus rating is fourth worst on the Pacers. Meanwhile, the Pacers are registering a defensive efficiency of 109.9 with Turner on the floor, also fourth worst—despite helping garner a solid 103.2 offensive rating.

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Strangely enough, it was the exact opposite situation with Granger, whose struggles the Pacers were able to chart a net rating of plus-8.5, tops on the team outside of Indy’s five starters.

As one of only three teams currently ranked in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, the Clippers, one could argue, didn’t necessarily need to bring in a defensive game-changer at the trade deadline.

Instead, the goals is to give Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as many perimeter weapons as possible, in the hopes that CP3—a peerless offensive orchestrator if ever there was one—can use the resulting spacing to carve up opposing defenses.

Given L.A.’s abundance of perimeter shooters, adding Granger might seem redundant. But according to a recent Associated Press article published by USA Today, Doc Rivers wasn’t hoping merely for a marginal bench boon, saying instead that, “ideally,” Granger will eventually slide into a starting role:

The whole key is how quickly we can get him acclimated, how quickly we can figure out what he does well. And he's still coming back from the injury, so even though he's back, he still needs more time and minutes.

Judging by his 18-point, six-rebound performance in L.A.’s 111-98 win over the Golden State Warriors last Wednesday—a game in which he hit on seven of his 11 field-goal attempts, including 2-of-4 from three-point range—that acclimation might happen sooner than even the Clippers thought possible.

At 30 years old and with mounting injuries, Granger’s ceiling is liable only to lower.

But playing in a system better suited to his strengths, where he’ll be surrounded by a bevy of primary and secondary options, could prove a long-term boon for the one-time All-Star—not to mention a shot of sweet revenge.

Should the Clippers ride their recent gangbusters play all the way to the NBA Finals and meet a certain team from a certain Midwest state, the dose could be even more potent.


All stats courtesy of and current as of March 16, unless otherwise noted.