Name: Danny Granger
2013-2014 Key Stats (in 12 regular season games with LAC): 8.0ppg (17.8 per 36), 2.3rpg (5.2 per 36), 42.9% FG, 35.3% 3PT
Years in the NBA: 9
Years with the Clippers: 1
2013-2014 Salary: Pro-rated minimum
Contract Status: Veteran's minimum player option for next season
In a nutshell
Granger was one of quite a few mid-season forwards that the Clippers picked up in the bargain bin this season in an attempt to solidify a fairly weak back-up frontcourt. Behind the starters of Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, Doc Rivers was forced to trot out some combination of Granger, Jared Dudley, Reggie Bullock, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Stephen Jackson, Ryan Hollins, Byron Mullens, and Antawn Jamison (am I missing anyone? There sure were a lot this year).
If Jared Dudley had performed up to expectations this season (39.7% 3PT career, 36.0% in 2013-2014), there wouldn't have been as much need for Granger, but it still seems that it would have been worthwhile to add him as a stretch power forward.
As far as the sub-par reserves went, Granger, along with Davis and Turkoglu, ended up winning spots in the rotation at the end of the season and going into the playoffs. While Granger performed relatively well in 12 regular season games (stats above), he dipped heavily in the playoffs, going on a horrible stretch where in 13 games he scored 9 points per 36 on 27.5% FG and 22.7% from deep. That's 2013 Chauncey Billups territory.
The big question for the Clippers, Granger, and the league, is which one will show up next season? Will he be a former all-star who adapted into a valuable role player, or a washed-up shell of himself who only gets contracts because of his reputation? The fact that he was still capable of producing in some games indicates that a full off-season of training could prepare him to have a solid 2015 campaign if he can stay healthy, but certainly his drop-off in the playoffs will temper any expectations from potential suitors.
Granger is an ideal 3, at 6'8", 225 lbs. That size gives the Clippers length on the wing as well as the versatility of using him as a small-ball 4. In the Clippers' game 4 comeback against Oklahoma City, Doc Rivers played Granger over DeAndre Jordan down the stretch, forcing the Thunder to defend Granger at the three-point line and give Blake Griffin more space to work inside. This type of spacing is exactly why "stretch 4s" are so coveted in the modern NBA.
Granger also showed a nice mid-post game against smaller defenders, displaying an ability to either face up or spin off opponents at about 12-15 feet.
It's clear that Granger's major issue is health. He missed all but 5 games in 2012-2013, and played only 41 this past season. Injuries happen, and teams would be willing to overlook this recent stretch when pursuing free agents, were it not for his sharp decrease in production as a result of his injuries.
Taking out his rookie season, Granger scored over 1000 points every season from the 06-07 season through 2012. He also shot 38.7% from deep over that stretch. In the two seasons since, he's scored a combined 365 points and shot 32.6% from three. It makes sense to throw out the 2013 season, where he only appeared in 5 games and was hurt, but in 41 games this year he scored 14.4 points per 36, which was his lowest rate of scoring since his rookie season (again, excluding the 2013 campaign).
The clear physical decline was enough to make Indiana bail on Granger at the trade deadline. It's unclear if that was a good move on the Pacers' part, but it certainly demonstrates how drastically his value has decreased around the league.
Future With the Clippers
Granger has a player option for the veteran's minimum of about $1.3 million next season. While his value is certainly unclear at this time, it stands to reason that no matter what, he'll be able to get the minimum from most teams. It makes sense for Granger to opt out, and then if he wants to stay with the team, attempt to return to the Clippers under either the BAE or on a minimum deal.
The fluidity of the backup frontcourt is still there heading into the off-season, with uncertainty around Jared Dudley's ability to have a bounce-back year and no names under contract at the backup PF and C positions (with the exception of Glen Davis' minimum player option). Some in the media expect the Clippers to try and make a push for an upgraded starting SF, which changes the picture, but it still seems like in most scenarios Granger would have a spot on the Clippers should he choose to return.