Danny Granger returned to action for the Pacers on Friday, playing 22 minutes off the bench in his team’s blowout win over the Rockets.
Exactly how much Granger can contribute to Indiana’s efforts at title contention this season remains to be seen, but whether he produces near his previous levels or he doesn’t, his situation is an interesting one for the team to consider.
If Granger becomes a cog in the machine that fits in seamlessly and legitimately boosts his team’s championship chances, then it’s likely the club will ride him through the end of the season and into his status as an unrestricted free agent this summer. But the team will also look at trade options, considering that Granger’s deal is an expiring one that could net the team assets which would help continue the run with the rest of the league’s elite.
For now, however, Indiana is content with seeing what they have in Granger, and isn’t looking to trade him anytime soon.
“I’ve talked to Danny, talked to his agent; I’m not looking to trade him,” team President Larry Bird said Saturday. “But you never know. If the right thing came along that would help the franchise, I would have to look at it, but I’m not out there looking at deals.”
If the Pacers did deal Granger —and he’d have to be healthy for anybody to want him — they’d have to take back $14 million in salary commitments. That means bringing back guys who are in the final year of their contract, along with trade exceptions.
“We couldn’t take back guys who are going to be $14 million next year,” Bird said.
The luxury tax is a real concern for a smaller market team like the Pacers, and Bird’s mandate right now is that the team cannot pay it. Now, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t pay it under the right set of circumstances, but all signs now point to Indiana dealing within the boundaries of the league’s salary cap.
Granger wants to stay in Indiana, but the question becomes at what price. The level he plays at moving forward will have a lot to say about that, but for now both Bird and his player seem content to play out the season and deal with contracts and personnel issues only when absolutely necessary.