Danny Granger

Danny Granger expects to play in preseason for Pacers

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The Danny Granger question is one that will hang over the Indiana Pacers to start the season.

Indiana was within one game of the NBA Finals last season with Granger in street clothes (he played just five games all season after a knee injury, his second in two years). Granger was an All-Star and the team’s leading scorer, but now everyone wants to see if he can blend his game in with the emerging leaders Paul George and Roy Hibbert.

To answer that question, first he has to get back on the court. Some preseason games could help with that transition, and in a wide-ranging Q&A with Dime Magazine Granger says he will be ready for some of those games (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Dime: Are you restricted at all in the stuff you can do, or are you full-on right now?

DG: I’m still in the middle of my rehab. I’m in a six month rehab; I won’t be six months out until October 5th…so I’m progressing to playing — I’m playing now, but I’m progressing on schedule and I’m still in the midst of my rehab.

Dime: Do you think that October 5th date is within reach, and you’ll be able to play in the preseason to get back into the flow?

DG: Yeah. I anticipate playing in the preseason. I definitely do.

The return of Granger is one of the things that will make the Pacers better. I lean that he is going to be able to blend his game in with the other stars — he will score less per game than he used to, but he does give them a shot creator when the shot clock gets down to :05. He can start and Lance Stephenson — who was fantastic for Indiana last year — can come off the improved Pacers bench, or Granger can be a scoring spark sixth man. Either way works.

If the fit isn’t there? Granger is a $14 million expiring contract the Pacers can move for something that does fit. They don’t need him to be a dangerous playoff team.

But he would help.

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.

Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)

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Bobby Portis didn’t enjoy getting blocked by Marquese Chriss. And Portis sure didn’t appreciate how Chriss fell on him.

But it was all worth it (for me, at least) just to see the Bulls forward make a face that reminded me of this:

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.

DeMarre Carroll shoves Isaiah Thomas to ground on break, tempers flare

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Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.

With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.

Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.

Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.