When the season began (and even dating into this past offseason), everybody expected the Indiana Pacers to trade Danny Granger. And why not? A one time star coming off injuries with a massive expiring contract? It was the perfect trade chip.
But little did anybody know the emergence of Lance Stephenson.
The guard has played like an All-Star this year and will finish the season as an unrestricted free agent. That means the Pacers are going to have their hands full in regards to signing him, especially since the Pacers have been adament about not going into the NBA’s luxury tax.
So what does this have to do with Danny Granger? In short, the Pacers are near the luxury tax figure already. Trading Granger for anything outside of a fellow expiring contract would add money to their salary cap next season. Adding money makes signing Stephenson nearly impossible as 8 points 9 seconds explains:
Lance Stephenson’s contract runs out this offseason and, as of now, the Pacers will be paying around $65 million in total payroll for the 2014-15 season, according to Shamsports. The estimated luxury tax threshold next season is $75 million. Now add in Jamal Crawford‘s $5 million salary for next year to the Pacers’ payroll and that will put them at around $70 million, leaving them only around $5 million under the luxury tax. That’s not going to be anywhere near enough to sign Lance next year — and with the way Lance has been playing recently, even being $10 million under the tax line will be cutting it close.
That leaves Indiana with two options. Either trade Granger for a fellow expiring deal (pointless, essentially) or give up on the hopes of re-signing Stephenson (unlikely).