Danny Granger is close to coming back, sometime right around the start of February. On the surface that suggests the Pacers could get better — they have the best defense in the NBA but the 29th ranked offense (using points per possession). Granger gives them scoring and good wing defense, put him in the mix and in theory the Pacers get a lot better.
Or, they may just trade him instead.
That’s the buzz from a few places. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein wrote this:
Interesting comments recently from Indy’s Paul George about how past Pacers teams all “had an ego to them” but how this one is “putting the team first.” Hard to imagine that the Pacers could find a trade taker for Danny Granger in the next 24 days before the deadline, given that Granger (knee) has missed the entire season so far, but it seems safe to suggest the end of the Granger era in Indy is drawing closer and closer.
ESPN’s Chad Ford ads this:
If they can get him back into the swing of things quickly — and get his trade value up — expect them to try to flip him fast now that Paul George has replaced Granger as the alpha dog of the team
Pulling off a deal at the deadline will be hard because teams will be skeptical and not offering a ton after he missed months with a knee injury. Plus, Indiana is a team based around chemistry and fit where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You have to defend well, you have to buy into the system and not every player fits what they do.
But look for the buzz to start heading into the deadline. A deal could happen.
I’d say a summer deal is more likely, but that also might depend on how the Pacers play during the playoffs — a deep run can change perspectives and plans. Just something to keep an eye on.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.