NBA Trade Pitch: Danny Granger to the Spurs for Richard Jefferson

By: 01.07.11  •  19 Comments

Danny Granger (photo. Stephen Hill)

As much as I hate sports/dating analogies — I really can’t hear one more comparison between LeBron James leaving Cleveland and somebody breaking off a relationship — when it comes to trades, the process does resemble most club hook-ups: One side wants it, while the other has to be convinced they want it.

In this case, the San Antonio Spurs want it. While the team is sitting atop the NBA with a 29-6 record and are as strong a contender as anybody for the 2011 championship, naturally they have to look toward the future. Tim Duncan‘s production (13.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg) has finally started to dip after 13 years, and Manu Ginobili is 33 years old and scheduled to break down sooner rather than later. In all likelihood, neither of them will be around by the time Tony Parker enters the last year of his recent contract extension in ’14-15 as a 32-year-old.

The Indiana Pacers have somebody who could be an ideal running mate for Parker down the road in All-Star small forward Danny Granger. Indiana just have to be convinced they want to give him up. Here’s a deal that would work:

Spurs get: Danny Granger
Pacers get: Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, George Hill

Don’t think it can’t happen. Not long ago, Granger (21.1 ppg) was viewed as “untouchable” within the Pacers’ organization as their franchise centerpiece. But according to sources cited by ESPN recently, Indiana has been open to the possibility of trading Granger, who has shown to be more of a streaky shooter than a pure shooter and is criticized for too often settling for long jumpers. Granger has a bit of Brandon Roy-type risk as well, considering injuries have limited him to an average of 64.5 games in each of the last two whole seasons. (He’s missed only one game this season.) Plus the Pacers’ decision-makers have fallen in love with young center Roy Hibbert, who may have taken Granger’s spot as the token “untouchable.”

Meanwhile, the players Indiana would get back in this hypothetical deal all make sense for them. Blair is the exact kind of tough, rebounding power forward the Pacers currently lack, and Hill (and Indianapolis native) would make maligned backup point guard T.J. Ford expendable. Jefferson could take over Granger’s starting SF spot and fits into the team’s up-tempo offense while allowing Hibbert to be The Man. For a franchise that clears a lot of cap space next summer with Mike Dunleavy Jr., Jeff Foster, Jamaal Tinsley and Ford coming off the books, they may see it as the perfect time to start over with Hibbert as the focus.

And while Granger is recognized as Indiana’s franchise guy, he actually doesn’t make an insane amount of money. This season he’s getting paid less than Nene, Luol Deng and Kevin Martin, among others. His addition would mean San Antonio pays four guys in the eight-figure range next season, which Dallas is doing this year and the Lakers are close to doing next year. (Lamar Odom will make $9 million.) These are pretty much standard NBA economics for contending teams.

This trade, if it happened, may not even go down until after the season. The Spurs are in good position to make a run at a championship without shaking up the roster — but bringing in Granger around the deadline actually wouldn’t throw off a lot of what San Antonio is doing provided Tiago Splitter can fill in some of what Blair produces.

Admittedly, the deal does more for the Spurs than the Pacers. But that’s why they pay R.C. Buford, to convince other GMs that they want to do something that benefits him. It’s not like it would be the first time it happened.

What do you think? Would you do this deal if you were San Antonio or Indiana?

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