The Herald Bulletin

November 14, 2013

Pacers facing big decision soon


The Herald Bulletin

---- — What in the world could possibly be troubling in the paradise that has been the Indiana Pacers’ NBA season?

Thus far not much has gone wrong in the perfect Pacers’ season (see story on Page B3). That includes a franchise-breaking win streak to open the season.

But there is some trouble brewing on the horizon — or at least the potential for it. For virtually all of last season and so far all of this one, Danny Granger has been off the floor nursing what seems to be one injury after another. On Tuesday he started practicing again with the team.

When he is fit and ready to play, the question is this: What will the Pacers do with him?

The player, who for many years was the team’s top scorer, is no longer, by any yardstick, the team’s best player. Due to his long period of inactivity, the question must be rsaid is he even one of the team’s top five players? Or top 10?

Throughout this win streak, player after player have credited the victories to the way the team plays together. Other than the three games missed by George Hill, the starting five and the rotations have been stable and meshing together.

Does all of that get thrown out so that Granger can once again be a Pacers starter?

Apparently that’s what team president Larry Bird believes. He has been widely quoted as saying it is a coaching decision, but he favors Granger as a starter and Lance Stephenson, who is off to a start nearly as good as Paul George and Roy Hibbert, as a member of the second unit.

I think that would be the worst choice Indiana could make in this situation and one I hope head coach Frank Vogel will ultimately shun.

There are two better choices he could make.

First, if he thinks Granger deserves and needs to be a starter, then the better option would be to put Hill with the second unit, move Stephenson to the point guard spot and insert Granger in the role now occupied by Stephenson.

That’s not his best choice though. The best decision would be to put Granger with the second unit.

Granger isn’t a player who can be that effective without the ball in his hands. On a second unit that is already much improved from a year ago thanks to players like CJ Watson and Luis Scola, Granger could be what he has already been, the top scoring threat on the floor.

Should Granger be vaulted into the starting five, his role would have to be much different. George is the team’s top offensive threat and that won’t change when Granger comes back.

Sports Editor Rick Teverbaugh can be reached at rick.teverbaugh@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4886.