The Detroit Pistons released Danny Granger on Monday, a move that could mark the end of the veteran forward's NBA career. Granger spent the preseason in Arizona rehabbing from knee and foot injuries and didn't appear in a single game for Detroit.
"We're probably sort of at the end of the road with him," Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy said before the decision became official, via MLive.com. "We took it as far as we could, hoping to get a look at him, but he hasn't been ready to come back. So we'll go with the 15 guys that are here."
Granger is still just 32, but this latest setback could signal a sad end to his career. He's expected to need around a month to complete rehabilitation of the plantar fasciitis injury in his left foot, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
It wasn't too long ago that Granger was considered one of the league's best players. All you have to do is go back six years.
In 2009, Granger averaged nearly 26 points per game on 45 percent shooting. He hit nearly three three-pointers per game, shot 40 percent from behind the arc and averaged 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and one steal per game. He was named an All Star and the league's Most Improved Player. He was everything that today's general managers dream about: a long, athletic wing player capable of guarding multiple positions, creating off the dribble and spreading the floor.
The next season, the injuries began and Granger only played in 62 games. That, however, didn't stop him from putting on a show when he was able to step on the floor. His percentages fell a bit, but Granger still averaged 24.1 points per game.
Of course, Granger's time with the Pacers and the starring role he had in Indiana will likely be soon forgotten -- or, at best, remembered for its transitional nature. He came after Reggie Miller, but before Paul George. His teams weren't laughingstocks, but they also weren't very good.
Granger's lone All-Star season in 2009 did little to help the Pacers as a team. Indiana failed to make the postseason that year or the year after.
By the time Larry Bird and Frank Vogel (who replaced Jim O'Brien as head coach in 2011) had rebuilt the Pacers and morphed them into a defensive stalwart capable of challenging LeBron James' Miami Heat, Granger was on the downslope. Still, he was the team's leading scorer in 2012 and he did play a major role that year, when the Pacers took the Heat to six games in a physical conference semifinals series, one which set the tone for what would be three years of intense battles between the two teams.
But an injury to his left knee limited Granger to just five games during the 2013 season, and Paul George rose in his absence. George was built similarly to Granger, but was also better and younger. With him at the helm, the Pacers became the best the defensive team in the league. They won 49 games that year and took the eventual champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Granger didn't play a single minute in the playoffs that season. His body never healed the way it was supposed to and his career never got back on track.
He was sent to NBA purgatory -- Philadelphia -- a year later, in exchange for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. The Sixers bought him out and Granger ended up making uneventful stops in Los Angeles (where he played for the Clippers), Miami and Phoenix before being used as salary fodder in a trade to Detroit this offseason. He's played a total of 89 games over the past three seasons and it doesn't appear as if that number is going to change any time soon.
Granger fell almost as quickly as he rose, the latest example of injuries derailing a promising career. Imagine if the league's stylistic evolution occurred just a few years earlier. How much would teams and fans be fawning over an athletic 6'9 forward with the ability to shoot and defend?
Any career that results in an All-Star appearance is one worth celebrating, even if it's a short-lived one. And while Danny Granger's résumé is certainly impressive, it's also one that that makes you wonder about luck and the factor it plays in an individual's success.