From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- 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 Wednesday night's season opener in Toronto.For the first time since the early 2000s, fans thought they may 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."It hurts," Granger said then as he described the procedure. "They take the blood out and inject it back in, so it hurts. But it helps you heal tremendously."Vogel has been cautious with both players throughout training camp and the preseason.They were often limited in practice and until Granger made his preseason debut last week against Cleveland, neither had played during the preseason. And while Hill is back, nobody can say yet when Granger might be able to play.
Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.
Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.
"I just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every shape and form if he wanted to consider this," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's "Russillo and Kanell."
"But reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll make it right."
Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.
In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.
“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”
Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."
Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden will not play again this season.
Oakland will place Hayden on season-ending injured reserve, Jack Del Rio announced on Friday.
Hayden hurt his hamstring during Sunday's win over the Panthers.
T.J. Carrie is expected to take over as the No. 3 cornerback.
More to come...