After nine seasons in Indiana, Danny Granger was traded to Philadelphia on Thursday. (Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images)
As expected, Danny Granger did not take his trade from the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers to the bottom-feeding 76ers very well.
The face of the franchise for many of his nine seasons with Indiana, Granger was understandably upset that the Pacers sent him to Philadelphia for guard Evan Turner and forward Lavoy Allen just before Thursday's trade deadline. The 30-year-old forward likely expected to be a critical cog in the Pacers' NBA Finals push. He'd battled back from significant injuries over the past few years and had accepted a secondary role upon his return. He's been a mentor to Paul George and a selfless leader. But now he finds himself having to start over with the 15-40 Sixers or another team if Philadelphia buys out his contract.
"Danny Granger was 'pissed' when he learned he was traded to the Sixers, per league source," Jake Fischer of the Boston Globe tweeted.
The Heat and Spurs are potential landing spots for Granger if a buyout occurs, as Fischer notes. (Granger is making $14 million in the last year of his deal.) Both are title contenders that could use a bench upgrade at forward. Granger is no longer the All-Star he once was -- he averaged 25.8 points per game in 2008-09 -- but he's still a capable scorer and has the ability to make three-pointers. He averaged 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 22.5 minutes in 29 games for Indiana this season.
The decision to part with Granger wasn't easy for Indiana president Larry Bird and the team's front office. Bird insisted he wasn't shopping Granger at the deadline and said the small forward had always been his "favorite."
"It's just a tough deal," Bird said. "Danny's always been my favorite. I understand the disappointment. A lot of people say that I've been trying to trade him for a year and I haven't been doing that. I even told Danny that. I did tell him if a great opportunity arises, you can't say you'll never trade somebody."
Ultimately, Bird said an "11th hour" trade offer from the 76ers forced his hand. Philadelphia had been insistent on only dealing Turner for a first-round pick, but backed down at the deadline and reached out to the Pacers.
"I didn't think there was going to be anything there [with trades] that we're really looking for, but when this came up and caught our attention, and we thought maybe we should do it. Try to stabilize that second unit," Bird told the Star. "Obviously, Lavoy Allen's another big body that can play and Evan Turner – I like guys who can play multiple positions. You can talk all you want about how he can't hit an outside shot, can't do this. I always look at the positive side of it. I think he's a kid who can come in right away and help us."
In a classy move, Granger stopped by the Pacers' practice facility to say his goodbyes before leaving Indianapolis.