NBA PM: Granger Offers Perspective
Granger Offers Perspective
HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Raskin
NBA writers know the difference between guys who get it and guys who don’t.
“It” is an all-encompassing term that includes everything under the umbrella of “adulthood.” You’ve got to remember, the athletes play a game for a living, and the journalists report on that game, so maturity—from either side of the fence—isn’t always a guarantee.
A guy who doesn’t get “it” arrives in the NBA, blows through his rookie contract, becomes resistant to all forms of coaching, and eventually bites the hand of the people that made him rich in the first place. We don’t need to list names, as anyone who regularly follows the NBA has already begun rattling through their mental rolodex of basketball miscreants.
Then there are the guys that do get “it.” These guys work to get better, save their money, and frankly make things easier for their teammates, coaches, union, front offices—and if we’re lucky, the media too.
Pacers forward Danny Granger is so firmly entrenched in the latter camp, he seems almost immune to the pitfalls of the former. The New Mexico product—who was accepted to Yale—is, by all accounts, a tremendous teammate, worker and responsible citizen. That’s why Granger spends his offseason teaching the game to kids at one of his camps, which is where Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Wells caught up with him.
“One of the reasons why I’m always holding camps is because I never had a chance to go to them as a kid,” Granger said. “I never had a chance to go to them as a kid. I don’t know if we could afford it or what. We also didn’t have a lot of camps in New Orleans because there wasn’t an NBA team there at the time.”
You’d expect Granger to be the darling of the league office—an intelligent athlete who cares about his community—but he’s also one of the more outspoken critics of the current lockout.
“The NBA is coming off a record season,” Granger told Wells. “We’ve got a lot of momentum going. Everybody hates what happened in Miami, but it brought a lot of attention to the league. Dallas finally gets a championship. We’ve got a great thing going and we’re about to shut down the league.
“This is the hardest offseason I’ve ever had to go through,” he added. “I’m workout out with no end in sight right now. Usually I’m ramping up to go full speed. With no set date on training camp starting everybody is doing their own thing. I’m in L.A. with a lot of players and everybody feels the same way I do. We’re just playing pickup games at UCLA.”
Even though the next NBA season’s is still TBA, Granger packs himself in a gym with the likes of Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee, Nick Young and his Pacers teammate Paul George. But even as he physically prepares himself for a year that might not happen, he’s stayed cognizant of the league’s woes, which is why he’s a particularly good source to discuss the lockout. As a player with a sparkling image, he’s one of the faces of the NBA under normal circumstances. But now, with everyone locked and loaded for a long labor dispute, Granger is one of the best spokesmen the union can have.
Just check out his advice to commissioner David Stern.
“I feel like he’s playing with fire a little bit,” Granger said. “He’s taken such a hard stance on things. I read that he finally said he’d take a salary cut. Nobody knows how much he makes, though. That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard. We’ve got 30 owners putting their faith in him to get the deal done and nobody knows how much he’s getting paid. He’s probably the most powerful guy of all the professional sports.”
Stern should be happy that Granger has other fish to fry.
The Pacers are coming off a playoff season. In the interest of building on that foundation Granger has been in contact with some of his teammates so “when the season starts we will have been going for a good month.” Granger is still hopeful for a season, but doesn’t anticipate much time for training camp or the preseason, so he wants to make sure that the Pacers, with the addition of former Spurs guard George Hill, have built as much chemistry as humanly possible. He told Wells that he hopes the team can add a veteran power forward like David West, Nene or Carl Landry, but who knows how long of a free agency period the Pacers will get to try and make a deal happen?
Granger might be the best face of the lockout for the union. He isn’t in a rush to cash some game checks; he’s on point with his criticisms of the league; and he’s ready for NBA basketball at a moments notice. It’s just a shame that no one knows when that moment will come.
The Truth About European Play
HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram
Every day brings another rumor about another NBA player signing to play basketball overseas as a way of staying sharp and earning a little extra money while the league and its players are at a stalemate in their labor dispute. What’s been few and far between is the news that players have actually signed contracts to play.
The reason for this is simple. FIBA teams don’t want to spend time, money and resources on players who could disappear from their programs at a moment’s notice, as NBA players would the moment the lockout ends.
“Our clubs need to have stable rosters,” Euroleague president and CEO Jordi Bertomeu told SI.com. “They need to know how long they will be able to employ the player. No team will sign a player for only two or three months, or for an uncertain period of time. This is our forecast.”
With a few exceptions, Bertomeu is exactly right. Unlike the NBA, where fans often have basically a passing interest in the outcome of the game and attend more for the experience, basketball fans in international circles don’t take losing lightly. They won’t pay to see a bad team, and when things don’t go well they react with a fervor that would make the infamous brawl in Detroit look like a kindergarten tea party.
Things don’t look good for the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, but fewer and fewer people now believe that the entire season is in jeopardy. Some of the owners are starting to feel the pressure to get a deal done, which is a step in the right direction, and as long as there is a sense that the 2011-12 season will happen, FIBA teams are going to be reluctant to hire high-profile NBA players as part-time employees.
Martin Finished In Denver?
HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram
The Denver Nuggets’ rebuilding operation officially began when they traded Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks before last season’s trade deadline, but we knew it was only the beginning. Despite the success the Nuggets enjoyed after the trade, surprising many by making the playoffs, they still had one big unanswered question in their starting lineup.
Namely, Kenyon Martin.
Martin has been a huge part of Denver’s success in recent years, not only with his production on the court, but also with his contributions in the locker room. He’s been one of the team’s vocal and inspirational leaders, and his hard work and dedication have earned him a special place in the hearts of Nuggets fans.
Sadly, injuries have been the more common story told about Martin of late. Knee injuries have forced him out of action more and more often, and he appeared in just 48 games last season after seeing 58 the year before. Now that Martin is an unrestricted free agent it seems very likely that the Nuggets will move forward in a new, younger direction.
The Nuggets already have Martin’s replacement in house, as they signed Al Harrington last summer. They also have the cap space to make a move for a younger addition to their front court, someone like New Orleans Hornets free agent Carl Landry (who will also draw interest from Indiana). Martin told HOOPSWORLD late last season that he hoped to reach a new deal with the Nuggets to finish his career in Denver, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Reports out of Denver today have Martin putting his house up for sale, an almost sure sign that he knows his professional future will lie elsewhere. Don’t take that to mean that Martin is finished playing basketball; he is still a productive player when healthy. He returned late last season and looked pretty good in April, when he averaged 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57% from the field.
Kenyon Martin may be done in Denver, but he’s far from finished in the NBA. It’s just a matter of which team will take a chance on his knees. Rest assured, someone will take that chance.
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