It's been a tough, injury-filled season for Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger, who's played in only five games for 74 total minutes due to continual problems with his left knee. However, things recently appeared to be turning in his favor. As recently as Wednesday night, the Pacers coaching staff reportedly expected Granger to be back in the lineup for Thursday's visit to Texas to take on the Dallas Mavericks. His return would figure to be an important one for the Pacers, a team that could use his scoring threat if they have any shot to challenge the Miami Heat (and other second-tier East squads) in the postseason.
What a difference a day makes. Thursday afternoon, the Pacers announced that Granger will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season:
The decision was made after all conservative treatment options could not alleviate the soreness Granger encountered. After consultation between Granger, the Pacers' medical staff and Dr. James Andrews, surgery became the preferred option.
Granger underwent a procedure in late October for patellar tendinosis. He returned Feb. 25 and played five games before continued soreness in the knee sidelined him. After further rehab did not ease the soreness, surgery was decided on. He is expected to be ready for training camp.
This is pretty clearly bad news for Indiana, although the severity depends on your particular point of view. The Pacers have effectively played without Granger for the full season, so it's not as if they'll now have to just adjust to surviving without him in the few short weeks before the postseason. Several players have stepped up in his stead, including All-Star wing Paul George, and the roster isn't entering some unknown world just because they know Granger won't be coming back. Plus, as Jared Wade notes at the Pacers blog 8 Points 9 Seconds, no one really expected Granger to be his old self upon his return — the hope was that he could be an x-factor and potentially serve as the difference in a few playoff games.
Yet the Pacers still expected Granger to return, so the fact that he now won't limits their margin of error in the postseason. Any playoff team wants as many options as possible, and that's especially true of the wide-open East beyond clear-cut favorite Miami. While it's true that Granger probably wasn't going to be a primary option, the hope that he could hit some big shots and perhaps pitch in a couple 20-point games was not ridiculous or insignificant. Indiana now has one fewer player who can play that role.
Granger's season-long absence has been one big bad break, but this particular bit of news indicates the difficulty of entering the playoffs at less-than-full strength. Losing a player, even if it was difficult to depend on him for too much, just makes the task that much more difficult.
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