Heat president Pat Riley announced Monday that Miami intends to sign unrestricted free agent forward Danny Granger once the NBA's moratorium on contracts is lifted Thursday.
Granger, 31, will receive a two-year, $4.2 million contract via Miami's bi-annual exception, according to Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com. The contract reportedly includes a player option on the second season.
The move represents an intriguing twist for Granger, who spent the first eight-plus years of his career with the Pacers before getting dealt to the Sixers in February. Indiana has been eliminated by Miami in each of the last three postseasons, and the two franchises have cultivated an intense and sometimes zany rivalry. This move might not be on quite the same level as Ray Allen leaving the Celtics for the Heat in 2012, but it exists in the same genre.
Ongoing knee issues have limited Granger to just 46 games over the last two seasons. Once Paul George established himself as an All-Star in Granger's absence, Indiana decided to part with its longtime forward in exchange for Evan Turner. The tanking Sixers agreed to release Granger before he ever suited up in Philadelphia. The 2004 first-round pick then caught on with the Clippers for the balance of the 2013-14 season.
Granger averaged 8.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 20.7 minutes over 41 appearances with the Pacers and Clippers. He saw only spot minutes during the 2014 playoffs, though, averaging 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game as the Clippers fell to the Thunder
in the Western Conference semifinals.
Miami is in the midst of building out its roster in an attempt to bring back LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Riley also announced that Miami intends to sign unrestricted free agent forward Josh McRoberts, who spent last season in Charlotte.
Miami has gone down this path many times before during the "Big Three" era, signing veterans like Allen, James Jones, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis and Chris Andersen to low-cost contracts. Granger showed some flashes of his old scoring touch in March, but he spent most of the previous two years as an unreliable option who struggled to stay on the court because of injuries.
Even if he can remain reasonably healthy, Granger hasn't produced consistently since 2012, so it's probably safe to assume his contributions will be closer to those of Lewis or Jones rather than the bigger names listed above. Granger is a career 38-percent three-point shooter, though, and perhaps he can rediscover that touch if his primary task is to hit wide open shots set up by James.
It can be inferred from Riley's reported plan to use the bi-annual exception on Granger that the options in that price range weren't overwhelmingly enticing, given Granger's obvious health red flags. Indeed, one wonders if Granger could have been had on a veteran's minimum contract had the Heat won the 2014 title or if they didn't have so many balls to juggle this summer. A team option would have also been far preferable to a player option, but the clock was ticking big time for Riley, who needed to have birds in hand to show James when they meet this week to discuss the four-time MVP's future.