Rehab resumes, might Danny Granger’s career resume with the Phoenix Suns?

May 5, 2015, 3:01 PM | Updated: 3:02 pm

PHOENIX — A three-week break apparently was more than enough for Danny Granger.

The Phoenix Suns forward was back at work Tuesday, returning to US Airways Center less than a month after the regular season ended.

Offseason, what offseason?

The NBA, much like the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball, has become a year-round profession with its athletes never straying too far from a gym, especially those players coming off an injury or at the back-end of their careers.

Granger fits both categories.

A bothersome left knee has limited him to just 76 total games in the past three seasons.

Three weeks after the Suns acquired Granger as part of three-team deal just ahead of the February trade deadline, the decision was made to shut down the 32-year-old so that he could work with head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson and his staff.

“I’ve only been here a month, but I have felt a difference. I’ve been improving,” said Granger, who has had knee surgery twice. “The guys have done a great job with correcting a lot of imbalances that I’ve had, that I’ve played with for the last 10, 11 years.”

The work resumed this week with Nelson, who along with assistants Mike Elliott, Tom Maystadt and Adam Annaccone, are looking to help Granger return to form — maybe not to the All-Star level he reached in 2009, but perhaps as a reliable scoring threat off the bench.

“With the track record that they’ve had, I spoke to Grant Hill on the phone for a long time,” Granger said. “He gave me pretty much his experience here and how it helped his career; and hopefully it’ll help mine the same way.”

Hill arrived in Phoenix in 2007 with a long history of ankle issues, yet played five seasons with the Suns, averaging double figures each year while playing in almost 92 percent of the team’s games.

Granger is hoping for similar results.

His early work with the Suns training staff concentrated on flexibility and mobility with his knee, using what Granger called a “different approach.” They kind of break your body down into three stages and start from the bottom. They want to get your base, or your foundation a lot stronger than what it is. That’s the preliminary phase before you even begin to think about strengthening. It’s to get the right muscles firing. It’s a different, unique approach, but it works.”

Though he never put on a uniform, Granger spent enough time with the Suns, at practice, at games and hanging out in the locker room, to come away encouraged by a roster that ended the season as the ninth-youngest in the league.

“I saw a lot of positive things, honestly. The talent here is overwhelming,” he said. “Talent wins in this league. That’s one thing you can’t win without, and I think this team has a lot of that, a lot of young, promising talent. It’s just getting it all on the same page is what you need. As they get older, as experience comes, they’ll be even better than they’ve been these last two years.”

Experience is a word that comes up a lot when talking about the Suns.

While the talent may be present, the experience was severely lacking on a team that lost 10 of 11 to finish 39-43, missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Might Granger, a 10-year veteran with four postseason runs, including the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012, be able to provide that experience?

“That’s going to depend on his health,” team president of basketball operations Lon Babby said the day after the season ended. “We’ve put him here with the best training staff in the NBA, in our opinion, maybe one that’s really world class — that’s been one of our aspirations in the time I’ve been here and I think we’ve got the right people, we’ve got excellent people in that regard — and he’s comfortable with it and he’s made progress. So, it’s all going to depend on what his health is.

“What’s particularly appealing,” Babby continued, “(is) his capacity for leadership and his experience and his playoff experience and just being a solid veteran. Obviously, that’s something that we need. And if he’s capable of playing and providing that, that would be a plus. He’s a very professional person, and again, very intelligent. We enjoy having him here, it’s just going to depend on how he feels. He thinks he’s got more left, and so we hope he’s right. He’s going to work hard, I know that.”

Ultimately, though, the decision to return rests with Granger. He has a $2.1 million player option on his contract for next season.

The good news is he and his wife are building a home in Paradise Valley and plan to call Arizona home for them and their two children.

Whether that sways Granger’s decision is unknown at this point.

Another factor to consider, again, as long as healthy is not an issue, is whether Granger would be interested in continuing his career with a young team that’s still developing into a contender or a team that perhaps has already reached contending status.

Either way, he would embrace a leadership role.

“Obviously, you want to play on a contending team and have a chance to win a championship,” said Granger, who believes he can play until he’s 36. “But with the success that the Suns had last year — at 48 wins they would’ve been the number-two or three seed in the East — so I don’t think the team is necessarily rebuilding. I think it’s more so needing to add a few pieces here and there.

“The blueprint is really good and if you add to it, it can be even better.”

Phoenix Suns

(Twitter photo: Forbes)...
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Rehab resumes, might Danny Granger’s career resume with the Phoenix Suns?