INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers are a team that has worked their way up the NBA playoff ladder the past three seasons, going from the East quarterfinals in 2011, the East semis in 2012 and taking the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat to seven games in last spring’s East finals.
Indiana opened its season with a 97-87 win over Orlando Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With the season officially underway, I’ve got three thoughts on the Pacers and league-wide predictions to make, so let’s get to it.
1. Danny Granger will be traded
Granger’s left knee cost him all but five games of the 2012-13 season, and now the 30-year-old forward is out three weeks with a strained left calf.
The Pacers and Granger downplayed the injury Monday, but it’s just another indication that the New Mexico product and his $14 million expiring contract will be shipped out of town.
Expiring contracts are very appealing in the NBA — which is why team president Larry Bird doesn’t need Granger to be healthy to trade him — especially to teams who are either in Tank Mode (bottoming out for the highest draft pick possible) or Free Agent Mode (bottoming out for future cap space to chase free agents).
Even with its heady offseason bench acquisitions of C.J. Watson, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and the drafting of Solomon Hill, Indiana remains short a combo guard capable of getting his own shot and scoring in bunches.
A couple of possible trades to watch for: