Pondering the Pacers: The Granger trade, five years later

Heads up! This article was imported from a previous version of The Campus Citizen. If you notice any issues, please let us know.

A good rule of thumb for first place teams is to avoid making any unnecessary roster moves.

Almost five years ago today, the Pacers broke that rule.

Let me take you back to the 2013-14 season. If you’re a Pacers fan, you were flying high. Fresh off of pushing the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, it seemed like Frank Vogel’s squad was poised to knock off the champs with Roy Hibbert’s rim protection, David West’s take-no-prisoners mentality, Paul George’s rise to stardom, and Lance Stephenson’s exciting yet unpredictable play.

On the bench was CJ Watson, a respectable backup point guard to George Hill. Then there was Luis Scola, whose mid-range jumper was absolutely knockdown. The real gem of the second unit, however, was Danny Granger.

When Jermaine O’Neal was dealt to the Raptors in 2008, Granger became the Pacers’ franchise player. He became one of the best scoring threats in the NBA, averaging about 22 points per game from 2007 to 2012. He helped guide the Pacers back to the playoffs in 2011, ending a five year drought. Granger was poised to lead a promising Indy team for years to come.

Then, in 2012, the injuries started piling up for Granger. Paul George took advantage, stepping into Danny’s role seamlessly, apexing with the seven game duel against Miami. When he returned for the 2013-14 season, Granger was willing to come off the bench for a Pacers team that was looking to make a run to the Finals.

Granger’s scoring off the bench was exactly what the Pacers were lacking the year before. Too often in the ‘13 Conference Finals, the bench unit couldn’t score with the Heat’s. With Danny back in ‘14, there was no reason to believe that the Pacers wouldn’t take down LeBron and Miami.

After bursting out of the gates early (starting off with a 16-1 record), the Pacers entered the All-Star break strong. Then, Larry Bird and company decided to break the rule--they made a totally nonsensical move. Danny Granger was shipped off to Philly for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.

I wasn’t a fan of the deal at the time. Yeah, it made sense (Granger’s contract was expiring, Turner was the best player on the Sixers), but I couldn’t understand why Indy would give up Granger’s points off the bench. He was only averaging about 9 points a game, but was capable of going for 20 on any given night. Alongside David West, Danny was also a veteran presence in an otherwise young locker room.

Evan Turner’s stint in Indy was nothing short of a train wreck. He never fit in to the system, got into fights at practice, and eventually became unplayable come playoff time. The Pacers totally imploded down the stretch (low-lighted by blowout losses to the Bobcats and Cavaliers), but still managed to lock up the top seed in the East.

Alas, it wasn’t the same team once Granger was shipped away. The defense slipped, the chemistry was off, and the 16-1 Pacers squad from just a couple months before was nowhere to be seen. Indy barely scraped by the Hawks in the first round, downed a tough Wizards team in the semi-finals, but were downed by the Heat in a six game Conference Finals.

Looking back five years later, this probably cost the Pacers a trip to the NBA Finals. They were by far the best team in the East until the Granger trade and immediately got worse once he was gone. It’s hard to say they would’ve knocked off the Spurs in the championship round (Tim Duncan and company were on a mission that year), but they would’ve put up a better fight than Miami did.

The Granger trade was unnecessary, and the implosion that followed was unforgivable.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Campus Citizen, IUPUI