Kyle Singler, Caron Butler, Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome.
That’s who the Pistons rolled out at the small forward position in last year’s season opener.
One year later, the table’s been wiped clean. Virtually all of Detroit’s small forward options have been replaced, and in some cases, the replacements have been replaced (farewell, Shawne Williams & Quincy Miller). As a result, heading into the opening of training camp next week, head coach and president of player operations Stan Van Gundy is rolling deep at the three.
With newfound depth at small forward, including a highly-touted lottery pick (Stanley Johnson), an emerging bruiser (Marcus Morris), and a litany of extras trying to hang on for dear life, questions abound regarding a former NBA All-Star.
Danny Granger, 32, is just four seasons removed from being a 20-point-per-game scorer. But with a recurring knee issue limiting him to just 76 games over the past three seasons combined, the Pistons’ other small forward acquired from the Phoenix Suns (alongside Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock) may never suit up in the red, white, and blue.
As word emerged this week that he would be likely miss Pistons training camp while he stays in Phoenix to continue his knee rehabilitation, and with the Pistons’ training camp roster already bloated, with 19 invitees (not including Granger) and 16 of those players under guaranteed contract, there’s a chance Granger’s already slim window is narrowing.
“I think it’s better for him and for us if he stays right there in Arizona and does his rehab and when he gets to a point that he’s ready to play and compete, then we will bring him in,” Van Gundy told reporters on Friday.
Granger is scheduled to earn $2.2 million this season but with his delayed presence in camp, he remains a prime candidate to be waived or traded (though the latter may prove difficult).
Still, for the time being, Granger will appear to continue holding down the fort 2,000 miles away in Phoenix once training camp kicks off in Auburn Hills on Tuesday.
“First of all, for his sake, I have too much respect for him to be sitting on the side, doing nothing, and just being here because he has to be here,” Van Gundy said. “And then, for our team, it becomes a bit of a distraction, a when-is-he-gonna-play type of thing.”
Jennings still a ways off: Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings also remains doubtful for Pistons training camp, as his activities still primarily consists of light shooting, jogging in the pool and weight-controlled treadmill work, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“It’s really day-to-day,” Van Gundy said. “You’re coming in every day and evaluating where he is, but the expectation is sort of from now until mid-October he’ll continue to do pretty much what he’s doing now.”