â†µDrafted in 2005, the New Mexico product is a restricted free agent next summer; the team now has a few months to lock him up long-term, without getting into the free agent drama that's defined this summer. With Jermaine O'Neal gone, Granger is hands-down Indiana's best player. He's got some Shawn Marion-like versatility going, but with a more fluid game, more natural scoring ability, and the kind of quiet confidence that you just could build a team around. Some will stand behind the resurrected Mike Dunleavy as the team's future—of course they would—but Dunleavy's a thrice warmed-over bust-done-good, while Granger can flat-out play. â†µ
â†µThe question is, though, what kind of money does Granger deserve? It would seem that Indiana can't afford to lose him. And while restricted free agency can inflate offers, cause overbidding, and make teams panic, it does do something to set the market. In this oh-so dramatic summer alone, we've see Andre Iguodala, hardly as stable as Granger nor with as much room to grow, fetch almost $13 million a year with his new deal. Monta Ellis, provided this injury business gets resolved, is in line for $11 million per. From Granger's draft class, we've already had Andrew Bogut get Iguodala money, and both Chris Paul and Deron Williams sign mini-maxes. â†µ
â†µGranger—unheralded, a quiet monster, and ready to take over this team—is, short of fellow 2004 alums Paul and Williams, or Bynum, who will be going for a max deal in a year. But he's good a cornerstone as you could hope for. You can make a case for Granger getting more than Iguodala. On the other hand, he could find himself a Josh Smith-like victim of circumstance, stuck between the race for Bynum, the 2010 horizon and yeah, his own lack of exposure. Of course GM's know he can play, but the bigger the name, the easer it is to get everyone involved to throw all their weight behind a contract push. And unless 2008-09 sees Granger really break out, next summer he'll be back in the boat of shadows.â†µ
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