Ode To Danny G.

The 5 game suspension is over.

We must trade him now!!!

Just Kidding. No need to force Danny Granger out of Indy just yet.

This is just a prelude to future discussions. Danny should remain a Pacer until we find legit reasons that he shouldn’t. That is to say we pick up the phone for any offer, but don’t listen to anything less than a clear upgrade during this season (which won’t happen). If Danny ends up looking quite tradable between now and the trade deadline and we are treading water in the 9th-11th spot in the east standings come Feb./March, then we should quietly, but actively shop him before the deadline. Otherwise, we should just plow ahead and get as far into May/June as the good Lord will allow. And, I think, with some luck and overall improved team effort/smarts/understanding that could be farther than we might’ve expected this time last year.

None the less, there will be trade demand for our Granger, both from fans and probably other teams. Oh Danny boy, the fans, the fans are calling…for your head. But, most want to want you to justify staying, and you mostly have. Trusting and finding open teammates while there’s still time for them to learn what to do with all the defense you draw will be key to quelling that demand for you to go elsewhere. I know Danny Granger won’t be reading this, but if anyone close to him does, just ask him to stay active on both ends, with and without the ball. And trust your teammates.

I predict that we will finish 5th or 6th (maybe 7th) in the east and have the 19th or 20th pick in the 2012 draft (I’m going to preserve my post-season predictions for my nocturnal emissions). I predict that Roy Hibbert and George Hill will play well enough to warrant contract extensions. I suspect that Hibbert will require at least $7-8mil. annually to retain his services; and Hill is so ‘not a true 1 or 2’, but such a good ball player in general, that he’ll require $3-4mil. annually to retain. If we don’t move anyone else and just stay the course, including our 2012 draft pick salary, best case scenario, that’s $47+mil. (including Lance’s non-guaranteed money) in salary for next season. So, we won’t have to sign more than a couple bench players to get to the salary floor (or better yet, give Hill and Hibbert a descending scale contract if we chose this “stay the course route” so they get more next year than the following years). But, we also won’t likely have enough money to throw at any top notch free agents.…which there appear to be none (aside from a few near franchise players coming off their rookie deals that will stay where they are). And then next year we’ll have to extend Tyler and Collison and the year after that, which is getting to the ‘too far out to predict range’ we’ll hopefully be maxing out All-star Paul George, wink-wink, nod-nod….but that’s the year Danny comes off the books.

So, if we stay the course, will we be happy with leveling off as a middle of the pack type team capable of giving a top contender a headache before they move on to the next round of the playoffs? I won’t. And I think anyone expecting us to continue to grow to the point where we are really a title contender is fooling themselves.

That said, I like all our young guys coming up for contract renewals. I think they will all warrant a fair market offer. If someone WAY over extends them money they don’t deserve then they can walk, otherwise, I think Larry drafted well enough to keep our guys home. THAT said, I’m also thinking that Danny will be overpaid as soon as later this season; especially if Paul George begins to find his shot consistently, West can be counted on for around 20ppg on a much higher percentage than Danny shoots, and Hill plays meaningful minutes at SG scoring and defending at or above league average.

So, I’m not even going to propose some of the trade ideas I have in mind for Danny at this point, BUT, I will say I think it might be wise to move him sooner than later. Nothing urgent. See how things are going this season and weigh our options near the deadline…and then again before the draft. Attempt to get at least a handful of smaller/shorter contracts and a late lotto-draft pick or a young marginal talent at a position of need (or both). At some point, Danny’s going to be too-long in the false tooth to warrant that $13-14mil. for marginal production and a couple of playoff wins. Say what you will, but if we just let him walk at age 31, or try to keep him…where will we be?

Here’s a question I have thought. Be honest in answering this:

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