Pacers looking forward to Granger’s return
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS – There are steps, actually miles, to go, but Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger took several Friday in non-contact drills during the team’s morning shootaround.
Granger, out all season with the exception of two preseason games with a left knee injury, participated in shooting drills and ran through some of the offense without any defense on the court.
“It’s good to see him back out there,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before his team took on the Houston Rockets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “We’re going to treat it almost like we have a new player. He’s been at every practice and film session. He understands the concepts of what we’re doing.
“When you’re not doing it every day, you almost have to relearn the offense and some of the defensive schemes. We’re going to enjoy doing that over the next couple of weeks. Just welcome him back to everyday stuff.”
The Pacers, who have a half-game lead on the Chicago Bulls in the Central Division, still hope that Granger, the team’s leading scorer the past five seasons, will be able to play in a few games before the All-Star break next month, barring setbacks.
Granger is expected to increase his non-contact activity during next week’s four-game West Coast trip.
“He looks great,” Vogel said. “He’s not limited. It’s a matter of how he’s going to respond to heavy work. Right now he can run around and he looks fine.”
There’s a chance Granger may come off the bench when he returns to the lineup as he works himself back into playing shape.
But that would be temporary.
Vogel quickly squashed any possibility of Granger being a permanent fixture coming off the bench.
“I don’t imagine he’s going to be able to play 38 minutes right away,” Vogel said. “If there’s a time frame where he’s limited minutes-wise, we’ll consider bringing him off the bench short term, but if we do so it’ll only be short term. We look forward to having him back in the starting lineup.”
Mike Wells writes for the Indianapolis Star