Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger missed nearly all of last year because of recurring knee problems, and his return to the lineup this year was supposed to bolster the Pacers' title chances after they took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
But now Granger is hurt again, although it's not his knee this time. Granger re-aggravated a calf strain in Indiana's loss to the Chicago Bulls last Friday, and Scott Agness of Pacers.com reported Monday that the 30-year-old would be shut down for the remainder of the preseason. After the week off, Granger will then be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff.
It's an unfortunate setback for Granger, who had begun to show some signs of life after a rough start to his preseason. After going 2-of-10 in his first two games, Granger had 15 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 13. And before going out against the Bulls, Granger had 11 points and knocked down all three of his three-point attempts. For the preseason, Granger knocked down 8-of-17 from three-point land.
The injury also effects how Pacers coach Frank Vogel goes about setting his rotations. Vogel had been tinkering with his main starting lineup, starting Lance Stephenson at the beginning of the preseason before trying Granger with the rest of the normal starters against Chicago. Stephenson started most of last season with Granger out of the lineup, and it still wasn't clear who would be the fifth starter along with George Hill, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert.
The Pacers didn't have all that much success with Granger on the court this preseason (he was a -23 in five losses), and the team has dominated two straight games with him out of the lineup. That might have nothing to do with Granger's absence, although the Pacers did get used to playing without him last year, enjoying plenty of success in the process.
Still, one has to imagine a healthy Granger would be a plus for Indiana because of his scoring ability, even if he's not quite the player he once was. The Pacers would be fine without him, but they might not be as dangerous as hoped if injuries continue to be a problem.