Granger should help bolster thin front line

LOS ANGELES -- Danny Granger was ready to make his debut for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night until ... well, he wasn’t.

He had signed his contract Friday afternoon, went through the team’s shootaround Saturday morning and was in uniform and on the court later that night.

That was when he was told he had to go back into the locker room and change out of his uniform.

Despite being one of the 12 healthy and presumably active players on the Clippers’ roster, Granger was in fact ruled inactive before the game because his name was simply written onto the team’s roster and not circled. All active players on a team’s roster must be circled by the mandatory deadline of 6:30 p.m. local time.

The list, as is the case with many teams, was written out by a member of the public relations department and handed to Doc Rivers to sign.

When referee Bill Spooner spotted Granger in uniform on the court warming up, that’s when he informed the Clippers that Granger’s name was not circled on the active list and, therefore, he was not allowed to play in the game.

“The Granger thing was on me,” Rivers said. “My job is to the check it, so I’m going to have to pay a silly fine; our team instituted a silly fine, so they’re going to fine me. I don’t know what the amount will be, probably dinner. Fortunately, we didn’t need him tonight.”

The Clippers certainly didn’t need the services of their newest player on Saturday night, as they trounced the New Orleans Pelicans 108-76 and rested the starters in the fourth quarter.

It was the second time a Clippers new addition was forced to watch his first game with the team from the locker room instead of with his new teammates:

After Glen “Big Baby” Davis signed with the Clippers last week and was expected to make his debut against the Pelicans in New Orleans, he was told to sit out pending his taking a physical back in Los Angeles.

Regardless of their delayed debuts with the Clippers, the additions of Granger and Davis upgrades what had been a thin front line on the Clippers and gives the team two players that will also bolster a struggling second unit as it enters the stretch run of the regular season toward the playoffs.

Rivers hopes Granger, who was an All-Star in 2009, can at some point this season work his way into being the team’s starting small forward to allow Matt Barnes to go back to his more natural role of coming off the bench. Barnes was thrust into the starting lineup after the consistent struggles of Jared Dudley, who is experiencing the worst shooting season of his career.

“He hasn’t played a lot over the last couple of years, but I thought before the trade he was starting to round into shape and starting to make shots,” Rivers said of Granger. “What I see in him is length. He’s a long small forward who has the ability to add a different dimension to us. The way I look at it is we can have a post game at the 3 spot as well now, which would be nice for us. If gives us another dimension.

"He can stretch the floor, and he comes from a defensive organization that runs a lot of the stuff that we run, so I thought defensively he would be the easier fit of the guys that were out there. He’s still coming back from the injury, so he still needs more time and minutes, and we’re trying to do that.”

Granger was being pursued heavily by the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, the two teams that met in the 2013 NBA Finals and that have won a combined six titles since 1999. Ultimately, he selected the Clippers as the best fit for himself and his pursuit of winning his first title.

“I’ve always liked the style that Doc coaches,” Granger said. “I just think this is the team I can have the biggest impact on. They had a role that I could fill.

“The style of offense that they play is appealing, and I’m familiar with it. They run you to death and put up a lot of shots and alley-oops. It’s an exciting way to play, and that’s always intriguing, especially for an offensive player like myself.”

That Granger, like Davis, would spurn similar offers from established championship contenders to sign with the Clippers is another example of how far the franchise has come over the past three seasons -- with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Rivers giving the team a greater level of respect.

“The culture has changed tremendously,” Granger said. “When I train here in the offseason, a lot of us come to the Clippers facility, and it’s one of the newer facilities in the NBA and its state of the art. The culture has really changed. Bringing Doc here and C.P. and the best power forward in the game with Blake, it’s a winning culture now.”

Before the game, Granger was going over different aspects of the team and playbook with Darren Collison, who he played with Granger from 2010 to 2012 at Indiana.

“He can shoot the ball extremely well,” Collison said of Granger. “He’s one of the better scorers in the league when he’s playing a lot of minutes.

“Everything that he brings to the table is something that we need.”

Granger’s addition comes at a good time for the Clippers, who are going to be without J.J. Redick for the foreseeable future with a bulging disk in his lower back and Jamal Crawford for about a week with a strained left calf.

Despite playing in just 34 games since the 2011-12 season after knee surgery, Granger said he’s healthy and won’t be asked to carry a heavy load on the team.

“He’s a weapon offensively. He can score the ball several different ways, so that just gives us another guy and body we need; somebody that can defend and do all those things for us,” Griffin said. “The great thing is I don’t think we’re going to have to ask him to do too much too soon. Hopefully, he can kind of work his way into it and hit his stride by the time playoffs come.”

The Clippers look to be hitting that stride now as a team after winning four straight games, taking a four-game lead atop the Pacific Division and being just a game out of the third seed in the Western Conference. The addition of Granger, who will now make his debut Tuesday in Phoenix, will only benefit a team that looks to be getting stronger as they make their playoff push.

“I think Danny brings an edge, a confidence, and one thing about our league is you have to earn respect, and Danny has done that,” Paul said. “So with him on the court every night, I don’t care what his percentage is or what’s happened in the game; he is respected, and we were hoping he was going to get on the court with us tonight, but soon enough.

“I really like the way our team looks right now.”