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.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.