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Danny Granger expects to start next season, and Frank Vogel plays along for now

Jun 6, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT

Danny Granger, Ian Mahinmi, Lance Stephenson

The Pacers’ starting lineup this season was one of the NBA’s best. George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert meshed together extremely well, both offensively and defensively. It was almost as if Indiana’s management assembled that group to play heavy minutes together. Almost.

If not for injuries, Danny Granger would have certainly started over Stephenson. Instead, Granger played just five games – all of the bench – between two knee injuries.

Stephenson certainly stepped up, going from on his way out of the NBA to a solid starter on a team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

But what happens next year if Granger returns? Zak Keefer of The Indianapolis Star:

Following the Game 7 loss, Granger said he expected to be back in the starting lineup at the start of next season.

Vogel was asked if he saw things the same way.

“Probably,” he said. “We gotta see how he returns. My anticipation is that he’s going to have a full recovery. I told him if he returns to full health and the ability that he’s exhibited throughout his career, then he’ll be the starter.”

Vogel added that he challenged Lance Stephenson, who in Granger’s stead had a breakout year, to “not let that happen.”

Granger is 30 years old. Under normal circumstances, he’d probably be declining. Considering he had two knee surgeries in seven months, he and the Pacers must accept there’s a very real chance he never approaches his All-Star level again.

But if Granger is healthy, Vogel will have a delicate situation on his hands managing not only the on-court combinations, but also the egos off the court. So far into his young coach career, Vogel has looked great, but this could be his biggest test to date.

  1. patfic15 - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Delicate? Stephenson looked horrible in his bad games. Feast or famine could be anymore of a better way to describe him.

    • justinnoah - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      I’d start Lance over Danny 7 days a week. Team chemistry matters. Team is better with Lance playing with the other four starters IMO.

      Lance needs to mature, become more consistent, etc… but he’s got All-Star potential and you can’t say that about all players. The kid has serious game.

  2. supremekingz - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I really like Granger, but let’s face it: The Pacers starters are set. That starting 5 is as good as anybody, and it would be a disservice to Granger if he came off the bench. He’s definitely a starter himself. Indiana should trade him to a team that will allow him to start, and they can get some much needed bench players in return for him

    • money2long - Jun 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      im sorry. i don’t fully agree. when the game gets tough and you need a bucket, granger is that player that can hit a big shot. i like granger’s intensity. i like how he wasn’t scared to guard lebron in their previous series, the one where he tried to bait lebron into a fight. granger can also get hot. and i still think the pacers need a player like that in the starting lineup as lance is not that type of player. paul george can go MIA on offense sometimes. hibbert has his moments. george hill is not a big time scorer either. granger is the guy you can pencil in for 18-20 pts when he is on his game. you cannot do that with any other starter besides the rising george. however, like you, i do like their starting lineup. but i just can’t say that a healthy lance is better off than a healthy granger.

      • jaerba - Jun 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        Even though those other guys go mia on offense on occasion, having Granger in the lineup _causes_ them to go mia.

        That’s the problem. He’s like Rudy Gay. He’ll put up 20ppg on 40% shooting but he’ll also make things harder for his teammates. The Pacers have enough problems with ball movement as is, a ball stopper won’t help.

      • gostlcards5 - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        I agree with you, but I think it does depend on how Granger comes back. If he’s not as mobile, then maybe you look at bringing him in as the focal point of the second unit, which sorely needs help to provide offense, and Granger could provide the second unit spark they need, potentially while he is getting healthier.

      • moseskkim - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        Granger has a lot of trouble scoring. He can hit 3’s but is a volume shooter. Can’t really drive. He’s easily guardable. Granger scored a lot when he was 1st option and didnt have talent around him. Hibbert was developing, no David west, maybe tj ford? U said u can pencil in granger for 18-20 when he is on his game. Everyone on the starting lineup minus Stephenson can get that when they are on their games. I say u trade him. He’s a better scorer than lance but lance brings speed, rebounds, aggressiveness, other intangibles that gives the pacers a different look from their slow beat u up pace. He reminds me of monta Ellis on GSW. Good scorer but no difference maker. Chucks up shots and scores but team sucks.

      • money2long - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        when your teammates are better, you are better. the way the pacers play defense, it will open up granger’s game. he has a strong supporting cast. on offense, they play like a team. less attention on him if his teammates are hot. if hibbert has it going down low, kick it out to granger. i can go on.

  3. anhdazman - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Trade bait. Find a suitor for that big contract and look into getting a 2014 1st rounder for him. Wiggins sweepstakes along with a pretty deep draft pool next year.

  4. saint1997 - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    He still holds decent enough trade value that you could snag a perimeter oriented off-guard to put next to PaulG at his natural SF role. This seems like the best logical course of action for the team to be better and stay in top 4 next year with Miami, New York and Chicago

  5. azarkhan - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    He will start…for another team.

  6. d10ballfan - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Who is going to trade for him? A 30 year old, big contract, two knee surgeries.

    The Pacers have little depth. Why trade Granger? If he will be a headache if he doesn’t start then start him. He adds depth, and assume he is health….. can score.

    The Pacers are going for a title. I just don’t think this is a guy you trade unless you are looking to rebuild. Let’s face it, he isn’t Harden and finding a trade partner to offer up a high first rounder or quality players in return will be tough. And very little teams will give up next years draft picks considering how good the class is supposed to be.

  7. jjthesportsguy - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    He expects to start, and I’m wonding if they should amnesty him in favor of locking up some younger guys and still having some cap flexibility.

  8. justinnoah - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I just don’t like Danny talking about being a starter, even if asked about it by the media. I’d prefer he’d say something like this instead:

    “I’m all about winning, whatever it takes. The Pacers have been my team since I came into the league and if starting or coming off the bench helps this team take the next step, then I’m all for it. Obviously Lance did a great job in my absence.”

  9. justinnoah - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I have no proof, but I think Frank Vogel prefers Lance as the starter. And I think the rest of the Pacers do too. This group clicked and has an identity now.

    Granger has value right now, so trade him while the gettin’ is good.

  10. 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    They should keep him. But they won’t. Book it.

    I think if they would have had him, and at 100%, they would be the ones facing the Spurs. Real talk.

    Wouldn’t mind having him on the Lakers, though (won’t happen either).

    • justinnoah - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      I don’t think they have as good of a season with Danny in the starting lineup. Lance and the other four starters had great chemistry and Lance is part of the reason they changed their identity to a defense-first team.

      Look at what Danny did when he came back for a few games… shot the ball, shot the ball, shot the ball. He still doesn’t get the fact that this is Paul George and Roy Hibbert’s team led by David West. Danny needs to accept a new type of role on the team, even if off the bench or as a starter.

  11. chadley71 - Jun 6, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    granger will come back into the lineup and do what he has been doing the entire time he has been with the pacers, BE A BALL HOG. the pacers lineup is set, they need to trade granger for some good role players and siffen up the bench and add $$ to resign west. granger is due $14M and in his last year on his contract….. don’t let this turn into another jonathon bender saga!!!!

  12. qpoiu1 - Jun 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    He is a great trade bait, because paul george took over the SF position. They should try to get some bench pieces, or a scoring punch from the perimeter to go along with george, someone like eric gordon, who is available for a trade and is from indianapolis by the way

  13. tcclark - Jun 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Paul George and Danny Granger are good friends. Before he was drafted someone asked Paul George who he wanted to play for and he said Indiana because he thought he could learn a lot from Danny Granger. It was Granger who recommended him to Larry Bird before the draft. They are good friends and Both player is humble enough to make it work on the court.

    The fact is, the Pacers are really close, but they still need to improve. Danny Granger was the team’s leading scorer prior to this year. He was their best player. Their’s not a person on the market that could improve this team more than Danny Granger. it would be stupid to trade him. Having 4 guys in your starting lineup 6’8 or taller is a huge advantage.

  14. jzone954 - Jun 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    West is a FA this summer…..next summer? Granger is and Paul George’s Rookie deal is up……just paid Hibbert as well…..so you tell me what the Pacers are gonna do????

    • jjthesportsguy - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      Good insight. I think we all know which of those 2 guys you have to keep.

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      DWest is a FA now. I think you have to re-sign him and extend PGeorge. If you use Granger as a trade, get draft picks plus a backup 1 or 2.

  15. hungryhungryhibbert - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    First of all, commenters, we amnestied old man James posey so we can’t amnesty anyone else (remember we weren’t always this good, did you watch then? I did,).

    Second, if I’m not mistaken, which is possible so excuse me if I am, west free agent this year, PG looking for extension this year or becomes a free agent after next season, team option for lance this year (so he will need an extension, watch out if bird goes somewhere else as GM lance may be tempted to leave) granger owed 15 mil (trade bait) hansbourbh and Augustan are UFA which is fine … Pacers have hill and hibbert locked up, they just need to resign D west, lock up lance while he is undervalued and give max extension to PG.

    Not sure if we can afford it, but that’s what needs to be done, besides finding role players/ring chasers off the bench of course, sounds easy right?

    • fm31970 - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Lock up Lance? For a two-year deal, maybe. No need to overpay and lock themselves into five years after a good, but not great, season of basketball.

      I think Hill is the one they should look at upgrading. A true 1 would help this team even more, especially one who can handle and distribute the ball better than Hill.

      • gostlcards5 - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        They just gave Hill a 5-year contract for $40 million. He will be the starting PG next year. While he is not DRose/CP3/Deron/Kyrie type talented for a PG, I still think he will improve, as he has been seen previously more as a combo/backup guard, and this was is first year with the reins of a team.

      • gregoryproach - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        I agree with this concept. The Heat series and game 7 in particular were a great diagnostic on the current Pacer team. I see West being resigned to numbers not terribly greater then his current $10 M. I don’t see being able to pull off a good trade for Granger until he returns and proves that his knee is ok. Hence until that issue is settled, I don’t see him as $14 M in “trade bait”. George should be locked up this summer to a good 5 year deal so you don’t go through the RFA process and a qualifying offer ordeal next summer. Lance does need to be locked up beyond the team option for next year, but I concur with a 2/3 year deal not 5 years. He has not proven that he can discipline his game to limit t/o’s. Lastly, I am in complete agreement on need for a starting or very talented back up point guard. I love George Hill’s game (and who he is as player and team member), but the Heat proved that he cannot handle heavy defensive pressure at the position and needs help. The t/o’s from the PG position were killers. If a starting point guard can be found and Granger can start at SF moving PGeorge to SG, Hill could be moved to the bench with Lance and with Mahinmi as well as a new backup PF (Pyscho T is not worth the $4.2 M qualifying offer required to keep him and I am not sure Pendergraph or Plumlee are the answer) those four could make a very complete bench that will not result in the mammoth drop off in talent we have seen the last 2 seasons. Unless moves similar to these are made to significantly upgrade the Pacer bench, this team WILL NOT be able to move past the Eastern Conference finals any time soon. The likes of Sam Young, Gerald Green and Agustin are not going to get the job done.

      • gostlcards5 - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        Sorry….I was tired yesterday. I also forgot Westbrook and Parker.

  16. ihitjumpshots - Jun 6, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    This team is almost there. Find a way to use GHill, Granger, and a pick to get CP3. It adds offense, defense, leadership, and toughness. With Chris Paul, the Pacers are in the Finals right now.

  17. khall824 - Jun 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    i’m reaching but here’s a possibility. pacers do a sign n trade for cp3 and trade granger to the clippers. which means the clippers resign bledsoe. sign PG to an extension, i’m sure west would resign for less if cp3 is there, have hill as the backup 1/2, try to find someone to take gerald green off their hands cause orlando is a better all around player

    Starting 5: cp3,lance,george,west,hibbert
    Bench: Hill,Johnson,Young(if they resign him) psycho T and pendergraph/mahinmi

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