GRANGER ON CLIPPERS: ‘IT’S GOING TO BE A CHANGE, BUT I’LL BE HAPPY’
PLAYA VISTA – A few hours before former All-Star Danny Granger arrived to officially sign his contract with the Clippers, his locker was already prepped.
There were three game jerseys, his practice uniform, team-issue sweats and dry-fits and a white towel adorned with his customary No. 33 draped over the front of his chair.
Granger, who reached an agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers on a contract buyout Wednesday, was where he wanted to be. Even if it was still settling in for the New Orleans native, who eight days ago only knew the Indiana Pacers as his professional home.
“It’s still kind of surreal honestly,” Granger said Friday afternoon. “I’ve been in Indiana my whole career. I’ve always seen ‘Granger 33’ with Pacers on top of it. So, it’s going to be a change, but I’ll be happy.”
Granger gives the Clippers (40-20) even greater depth and versatility on the wing for the stretch run. They have been without J.J. Redick, who is out indefinitely with a bulging disc in his lower back, for the past 10 games, and lost Jamal Crawford on Wednesday to calf strain.
“I think I bring another dynamic,” Granger said. “I’m a bigger small forward. I can play the 4 as well. And I can shoot the ball and when you add that to the type of offense that we have: up-tempo, shoot a lot of threes, go out and space the court. That’s the kind of offense that I think I would thrive in.”
In Indiana, Granger went from primary option two seasons ago to their leading-scorer off the bench. He’s 6-foot-8, long and is one of 35 active players to score 18 points per game or more in a season at least five times.
But he missed all but five games in 2012-13 due to tendinitis, often referred to as “jumper’s knee.” However, Granger says he is past the tendinitis in his right knee that cost him more than 100 games over the past two seasons.
“I definitely have gotten healthy,” Granger said. “Now it was just a matter of getting my game back and getting my feel and I was on track. I’m still feeling good. So, I still feel like I have a lot to offer and I like the way I’m going.”
Granger has never been a high percentage shooter, but he’s also never played with a cast of offensive players around him like he will have with the Clippers. He’s a 38.2 percent shooter from 3-point range in his career, a number that has dipped since his knee troubles began.
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But even still he is 12-for28 (42.9 percent) from the left and right corners, a spot he will likely receive plenty of open looks in the Clippers’ high-octane offense. It also helps that he has played up-tempo before, in 2009-10, when he averaged 24.1 points and attempted a career-high 7.1 3-poitners a game.
“The [Clippers’] offense isn’t very structured and when you have that freedom you can really thrive,” he said. “The last time I played in an offense like that was probably three or four years ago where it’s up and down, you throw it ahead, you can attack the rim, you have lobs because you’re spacing the floor. When you have Blake [Griffin] and DeAndre Jordan you just throw it by the rim. It’s a really unique way to play and a lot of fun.”
Granger is the second high-profile addition the Clippers have made since the trading deadline passed last Thursday. They signed Glen “Big Baby” Davis, an NBA champion, on Monday after he reached a buyout with the Orlando Magic and now Granger, a former All-Star.
Still, with 22 games remaining before the postseason the Clippers will be challenged with fitting in new personnel as quickly as possible, according to Chris Paul.
“I think at the end of the day with our team we understand that it’s all about winning games,” Paul said Friday before practice. “We’ve dealt with injuries and things like that. Depth, especially at this point in the season, is very crucial. When I was out, [Darren Collison] stepped into a starting role and was amazing. When I came back, we still kept that dialog. Out here it can’t be personal, it has to be all about winning games.”
“It changes the team,” Blake Griffin added, “but we just try to do a good job of meshing them in and getting them in the mix as fast as possible.”
Granger, in his ninth season, should not have a problem fitting in either. He accepted coming off the bench in Indiana after he returned from his knee injury. He also has a great deal of respect for Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and other members of the roster.
“I’m very familiar with the way Doc coaches,” Granger said when asked why chose the Clippers. “And I think you always have a desire to play with a point guard the caliber of Chris Paul. And I think in the West it’s a really tight race out here and I just thought I would be able to help this team the most.”