From a recent article by ESPN's Chad Ford on which players are most likely to be dealt by the trade deadline:
9. Danny Granger, F, Pacers
The Pacers have long maintained that Granger is the core of their team and off limits. However, as our own Marc Stein has reported, a number of GMs in the league now believe Granger could be had for two major assets. Granger isn't having a career season, but he is only 27, has a reasonable contract and is the type of player every coach wants in the locker room.
What is Indiana looking for? Ideally, it'd get a power forward and a 2-guard who can create his own shot off the dribble. It would take a pretty big package for Indiana to let go of Granger, but it sounds as if, for the first time, he's no longer untouchable.
While the majority of IC'ers believe it's a better move to try and use some of the expiring contracts (Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster, Solomon Jones) to put players around Granger, Chad Ford continues to insist the better option may be to move Granger. He's said in a recent chat that Bird would move Granger if he could get two starters in return. The most likely pairing would be a Power Forward and Shooting Guard, according to Ford.
So, which NBA teams fit the description of what it would take to get Granger? Here are a few of my own ideas:
Trade 1: Indiana and Utah
Jefferson and Miles fit the PF/SG combo that would suffice Ford's idea of what the Pacers need. Granger immediately fills a need in Utah. The biggest offseason losses are proving to be Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver. Utah no longer has anyone who can score from outside. Granger would fit well in a rotation with Deron Williams, Paul Milsap, Memet Okur, and Raja Bell.
It's becoming quite apparent that Paul George is the real deal and could easily take over SOME of the scoring that Granger provided. Jefferson would take a lot of pressure off of Hibbert as the only low-post scoring option. I actually think Hibbert could become a better defensive presence if he didn't have to worry so much about his decline on the offensive side. C.J. Miles is an excellent 6th man coming off the bench to take Paul George's current role as the leading scorer with the second unit. A starting lineup of Collison, George, Dunleavy, Jefferson, and Hibbert looks a lot more balanced than Collison, George, Granger, Hansbrough, and Hibbert.
Trade 2: Indiana and Atlanta
This one's pretty tasty. The Pacers get IC-favorite, Josh Smith in the deal. Atlanta would become an even more dangerous offense. They lose Smith's defensive presence, but Granger is no slouch on the defensive end and would provide a lot more scoring for Atlanta. They don't lose a lot of scoring from the second unit with Dunleavy replacing Crawford's production. Atlanta would most likely have a starting lineup of Bibby, J. Johnson, Granger, Horford, and Collins. That's pretty scary!
This trade doesn't net the Pacers a traditional back to the basket scoring option at the power forward position, but gives them a guy who is multi-dimensional. Crawford can light up the scoreboard, replacing the scoring load that would be lost from the departure of Granger. A starting lineup for Indy would be Collison, Crawford, George, Smith, and Hibbert. Me likey!
Trade 3: Indiana and Memphis
If Memphis believes they don't have a shot at resigning Randolph, then this deal gives them some start power, youth, and cap relief going forward. While it may be an adjustment figuring out how to play Gay and Granger together since they are nearly identical, it's worked for other teams in the past (see: Charlotte - Jackson and Wallace). They'd have an identity change, but would remain relevant nonetheless. A starting five for Memphis would look like this: Conley, Granger, Gay, Darrell Arthur, and M. Gasol. That's a pretty good shooting team.
Indiana gets a hometown boy who can score like crazy. They also get a legitimate shooting guard who hasn't fit in with Memphis's playing style. Mayo is definitely a guy who can create his own shot and would thrive in Indiana under the right coach. This deal would certainly mark and end to the J'OB era as it would transition to a more 1/2-court style of offense around Z-Bo. A starting five would be Collison, Mayo, George, Randolph, and Hibbert.
Trade 4: Indiana and New Orleans
Like Memphis, New Orleans' hands are tied with West. He could opt out of his final year and become a free agent. They could lose him. If they lose him, then their chances of retaining Chris Paul go way down. Granger could ease a lot of concerns from the folks in New Orleans. However, they'd have to trot out a very small lineup as Granger would most likely play a lot of power forward. A starting lineup could be: Paul, Belinelli, Ariza, Granger, and Okafor.
Indiana gets one of the better scoring power forwards in the league. They also get a guy in Thornton who showed flashes of great potential last season. This is the riskiest of all the deals and is also probably the weakest. But, they would certainly be more balanced at every position. A starting five of Collision, George, Dunleavy, West, and Hibbert with Thornton coming off the bench is still competitive in the eastern conference.
While I love Granger and hope that we can find a way to surround him with better players, if the right offer is there, Bird has a tough decision to make. The good news is this team has a ton of options going forward. And most seem to put this team in a better position to compete in the near future. Let's just hope J'OB isn't around to screw it all up!