Danny Granger was happy just to have made his long awaited return to the Indiana Pacers’ lineup on Saturday, even if his individual performance was almost as painful as the injury that has kept him from playing the majority of the season.
Granger returned for the Pacers’ 90-72 road win over the Detroit Pistons and managed 18 minutes off the bench. Understandably, after such a lengthy layoff he didn’t have a night worth remembering, Granger made just one of his 10 field goal attempts, but the 8-year veteran was simply happy to be back playing basketball.
“It feels good to be back,” Granger told the Indy Star. “I missed all of this.”
Granger’s road back to NBA playing condition hasn’t been an easy one and the one-time All-Star (2009) has had to go through a whole heap of pain, physically and mentally, in order to get there.
“It was really hard and I was frustrated with my knee,” he said. “I was constantly playing and having pain and more pain. It’s getting better, but you still have your doubt in your mind.”
“I watched all the games and I’d give as much input as I could. But when you’re out and not playing and you can’t practice, it was kind of depressing.”
While Granger fights through the pain of a still recovering knee and works his way back into prime condition, he’ll have to sport a brave face as the media pry into the inner workings of the Pacers’ locker room. A lot has changed since Granger last sported a Pacers jersey and as he presumably recaptures the form that made him into an All-Star, questions will arise as to just whose team this actually is.
The 2012-13 season has seen Paul George emerge into Indiana’s top offensive weapon and an import defensive piece. Some already believe this is George’s team and considering Granger is seven years his senior, and is rapidly approaching age 30, he may have to fit into a lesser role or prepare for a change of scenery.
If George and Granger can share the ball, and the spotlight, Indiana may just have enough to make a run at the Conference Finals and general manager Kevin Pritchard will have one less personnel decision to worry about.