Dime: There's been a lot of discussion about your role with the team after Lance Stephenson played so well in your absence. Do you think you're better in a starter's role, or can you contribute off the bench as well?
DG: That's the last thing on my mind. My only focus right now is pretty much getting back on the court. I can worry about the rest later.
Dime: Are you restricted at all in the stuff you can do, or are you full-on right now?
DG: I'm still in the middle of my rehab. I'm in a six month rehab; I won't be six months out until October 5th…so I'm progressing to playing — I'm playing now, but I'm progressing on schedule and I'm still in the midst of my rehab.
Dime: How do you get the reps in, or get ready for training camp if you can't go all out?
DG: Well you go out, you're playing all out and you're going all out, it's just a matter of — you only can do what your body allows you to do at that time. That's basically what your injury prevents you from doing. We have doctors and trainers that know the loads you're able to handle so you're playing up to that load. So it's a progression: you start low and then you try and go higher and higher.
Dime: So you're playing all out, but you're not where you want to be when you're playing?
DG: Playing is a part of the rehab, so no, you wouldn't be 100 percent. Even someone, let's say Derrick Rose who had an ACL, he can play all out, but that doesn't mean he's playing at 100 percent.
Dime: So you're not at risk for re-injuring it or exacerbating the injury by playing at all?
DG: No, you're not at risk for that.
Dime: Do you think that October 5th date is within reach, and you'll be able to play in the preseason to get back into the flow?
DG: Yeah. I anticipate playing in the preseason. I definitely do.
Granger played in just five games last year. He suffered a knee injury that took him months to recover from, played in five games, then was out, then his year was over. The question of what to do with Granger now that the team has evolved to a Eastern Conference powerhouse has been a big one.
Granger's set to make $14 million this season, but is on an expiring contract. If the fit isn't optimal, they can still probably move him for good return value, but it depends on how he looks to start the year. Meanwhile, if he does get back to where he was two or three years ago, look out. An offensive unit that struggled will have a powerful combo forward to use.
This is a big year for Granger's career. He was a blossoming star before a statistical setback followed by the injuries. How this year shaks out could determine a lot about what his future role is, and a lot about exactly how high Indiana's already sky-high ceiling is.