The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and now that Carmelo Anthony has made his way to New York, it could all start ramping up quickly. Whether the Pacers make a move or not has yet to be seen; they’ll entertain offers up through the cutoff point, but it’s possible they hold steady. In a somewhat strange twist, one of the most talked about names in regards to trade rumors is the team’s leading scorer, Danny Granger.
Granger has been the focal point of the franchise since for the past four seasons, a stretch in which the Pacers haven’t made the playoffs in any of them. So it seems possible, that with the drafting of Paul George, a player who is generally listed as a lifetime small forward, to couple with the recent lack of success, that all signs logically point to an end of the Granger era in Indiana.
But it should be noted how tricky of a situation that is. While the Pacers don’t have any truly recognizable faces, and Granger is easily one of the most valuable pieces in trade talks, this isn’t a franchise in position to simply make deals with a long term plan in mind. One of those is already in place, and this isn’t any old year. If it were, there wouldn’t be such a push for the growth of the young players. They wouldn’t have made a head coaching change. This is a rare instance where a playoff berth could be more important than acquiring future talent, even if that talent has sizeable potential.
Through the building process, the Pacers are on the doorstep of their first playoff appearance since 2006, making it one of the longest lulls ever seen by the blue & gold. Fan support has been everywhere from "completely loathe" to "either way" with stops everywhere in between. But right now, at this moment, there is a chance to start getting that energy back. This franchise has worked patiently to be where they are; stocked with positive young players with the chance to fill in the missing pieces through free agency and trades.
And we feel now is the time to strike on trading Danny Granger? On the precipice of relevancy?
To be fair, the knocks on Granger are true; he’s not a player that’s going to lead a team to a championship and he seems to lack the drive to take over games consistently, but Pacers fans need to step back and realize that the simple fact the Pacers even have Danny Granger should be considered a miracle. It took a beer cup vs. a championship contender on one side to meet up with lottery talent with injury concerns to make it happen. Even still, the problem with the perceived view on Granger isn’t in who he is, but the shortcomings he’s had in the role he has had to take on. He’s one of the five best small forwards in the NBA on a given night, and it’s easy to miss that watching him every night.
His value to the Indiana Pacers is more than just on the court. Not only does he do great work in the community, but he’s the face of a rehabilitating franchise. He’s the most recognizable name to local fans, and he’s the best chance the team has at immediate success. It should require a deal, that while not as rare as the circumstances needed to make him a Pacer in the first place, close.
One of my goals for the season was patience, and while I’d still prefer to use these expiring deals for talent, trading Granger in a kneejerk "make a deal for the future" move decidedly not patient; impatient if you will. Denver’s side in the Carmelo Anthony deal should be a testament to the Pacers regarding patience, even if we all lost ours hearing about it. Not only did the Nuggets hold out for the best possible trade opportunity, but they got a great "best-case scenario for a worst-case situation" deal out of it all. It’s a smart way to go about your trades, even more so if you aren’t under any kind of pressure to deal your best player, which the Pacers are not.
As for the actual trades themselves, trading up, i.e. a better player by using Danny, would require too much cost to make it a net positive for Indiana. New York has the luxury to foolishly gut their depth for one player. The Pacers can’t do that, so obviously, that has to be pulled from the table. The other trade situation has the most legs; walking in the form of sending Danny Granger to a team for young talent to be named later, and future draft considerations.
For a team in Indiana’s current position, this would be the best way to go about moving Granger, but it doesn’t mean it’s a move that should be making. There’s no trophy for dealing your best players for young players. At some point, you have to move forward with what you’ve got. As teams may be giving Larry Bird a ring about the availability and cost that would `come in acquiring Granger, Bird needs to use Anthony’s deal as leverage to make teams overspend for Granger’s services.
The Pacers aren’t, nor should they be, in any rush to set the team back in the present with hopes for a brighter future, but listening doesn’t hurt. All it takes is one good, possibly insane offer from a team in desperate-to-make-it-seem-like-they’re-doing-something mode to make one step back a few steps forward. But what the front office does should have no bearing on the fans. Regardless of what happens at the deadline, Paul George and Danny Granger can co-exist, so imagine that future as well. I’ve closed my eyes to that thought, and I can see it being successful. I wouldn’t mind trying it.