The Philadelphia 76ers completed their buyout of Danny Granger on Wednesday and the former face of Pacers past has already chosen his next destination. Granger will join the Los Angeles Clippers when he clears waivers at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. No surprises there. He wants to play for a contender where he can legitimately contribute, and he’s certainly an upgrade from LAC’s medley of bumbling backup forwards (Elmer Fuddley, Greedo Turkoglu, Posha Vujacic, and Reggie “Not Relevant Enough for a Nickname” Bullock). Living in Los Angeles is just a luxurious bonus.
When Granger was swapped within the Eastern Conference at the deadline, it hardly affected the Portland Trail Blazers. The chances of Portland meeting Philadelphia in the post-season were about the same as Robin Lopez shaving his head to soak up that famous Portland sunshine. However; now that Granger will be playing for a direct competitor, there may be cause for concern. When the Clippers are tired of fielding Matt Barnes for his sneering abilities, they can now sub in Granger for his scoring abilities. He’s a much better floor spacer too (the biggest thing LAC was missing).
–You all get to endure my mini-diatribe for a moment. People forget too quickly that two seasons ago, Granger was leading the Pacers with upwards of 20 points per game. Since then, he has played a grand total of 36 games. He missed nearly all of last season (and the beginning of this one) with a calf/knee injury and has since played solely backseat minutes on a team that has replaced him with Paul George and Lance Stephenson. Granger may not be prime time anymore, but damn, he’s only a year older than LeBron and not that far removed from their physical matchup in the Eastern Conference semis.
Point being, Granger has enough left in the tank to contribute and then some. Though he was less than thrilled to leave the team that drafted him 9 years ago, a change of locale will be good for him. Unfortunately, what is good for him is bad for Portland. With a month and a half left until playoffs, the top five teams in the Western Conference are separated by only four wins. While the Trail Blazers strain for a record worthy of homecourt advantage in round one, the opposition has gained the upper hand. Only one win separates the 3rd place Trail Blazers and the 5th place Rockets, with the Clippers in between. Any loss of ground could result in a costly slide.
That’s why this Granger business makes me nervous. The Trail Blazers have the potential to beat anyone in a seven game series… as long as they have homecourt advantage. If Granger improves the Clippers even a little bit (and he will), the Trail Blazers will have to find another gear in order to remain a top four team in the West while fending off the ever-gaining Rockets. Portland’s post season position rests on the edge of a knife, and Los Angeles is grasping at the handle.