The Indiana Pacers will start the season without star forward Danny Granger, who has been sidelined indefinitely with a sore left knee.
The team said Tuesday that their top scorer and former All-Star is seeking a second opinion from a doctor as he continues to recover from a knee injury during last spring’s Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s a tough blow for the Pacers, who had high hopes heading into tonight’s season opener in Toronto.
For the first time since the early 2000s, fans thought they might have an NBA title contender as all five starters from last season’s playoff run returned.
Now Indiana must contend with the loss of Granger, a small forward who averaged team-best 18.7 points per game last season, and the possibility that starting point guard George Hill might not be 100 percent. Hill did not play in any preseason games because of a left thumb injury and a right hip-pointer.
Coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star on Monday that Hill is expected to start against the Raptors and that he would like to play Hill about 30 minutes per game.
“You’re never going to feel like yourself the first day back, but I feel a lot better being out there than sitting down,” Hill told the newspaper.
Hill is expected to fill a vital role this season after returning to his hometown last year, averaging 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He played well enough that the Pacers traded Darren Collison to Dallas during the offseason.
Losing Granger is more disconcerting.
He has averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in seven NBA seasons, and though he played through the injury in May, it flared up again while he was doing offseason workouts. In September, Granger underwent blood-platelet treatment.
Lawson gets 4-year deal
Ty Lawson signed a four-year, $48 million extension with the Denver Nuggets. The deal eliminates a distraction that’s been hanging over the team and its star point guard for weeks. A team spokesman told the Associated Press after the team’s arrival in Philadelphia that Lawson signed the extension.
Minnesota picks up options
The Minnesota Timberwolves exercised third-year options on guard Ricky Rubio and forward Derrick Williams for the 2013-14 season.
Rubio averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. He finished as runner-up in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year voting and finished sixth in the league, and first among rookies, in assists last season. The second-year guard from Spain is recovering from surgery in March to repair torn ligaments in his left knee.
Williams appeared in all 66 games for the Timberwolves as a rookie, averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Bulls retain Butler
The Chicago Bulls exercised their third-year option on former first-round draft pick Jimmy Butler for the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot-7 Butler appeared in 42 games as a rookie last season and averaged 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in a limited role. He was taken in the 2011 draft.
Jazz keep Corbin as coach
The Utah Jazz exercised an option that will keep coach Tyrone Corbin under contract through the 2013-14 season. Corbin was thrust into the job following the abrupt retirement of Jerry Sloan in February 2011.
Corbin, who played for the Cavaliers from 1987-1988, guided the team to the playoffs despite a strike-shortened training camp and season. Corbin, 49, has a 44-50 record.