Last season, Pacers wing Danny Granger, missed the entire year with a knee injury. Then, during training camp this fall, he suffered a strained calf muscle that kept him out of a uniform through the season’s first quarter. On Friday night he returned, and Pacers President Larry Bird was brutally honest about Granger’s work ethic when recently speaking to the Indianapolis Star.
Bird told the Star’s Bob Kravitz, he wasn’t going to trade Granger (and the $14 million he’s looking to make this season in the final year of his contract), and even informed Granger of this fact, since Bird’s hoping Granger can the final piece to help the Pacers as they attempt to dethrone 3-time Eastern Conference champion Miami:
“I’ve talked to Danny, talked to his agent; I’m not looking to trade him,” team President Larry Bird said Saturday. “But you never know. If the right thing came along that would help the franchise, I would have to look at it, but I’m not out there looking at deals.”
But it was when Bird attempted to explain the notoriously slow starts of the 6-8 small forward where he didn’t pull any punches:
“He doesn’t work hard enough (in the offseason),” Bird said. “He’s not a guy who’ll push himself to the brink like a lot of our guys do. He works hard but he doesn’t push himself. That’s why he starts slow every year and he just works his way back. Now this year, he’s been hurt, so it’s a different deal.”
Many Pacers fans have forgotten about Granger’s status as a former All-Star, and someone who averaged over 20 PPG from 2008-2011. But Granger may be the difference if — and in the awful Eastern Conference, more likely when — the Pacers meet the Heat in the Conference Finals. Granger’s scoring prowess off-the-bench could go a long way towards advancing the Pacers to their first NBA Final appearance since the Dunking Dutchman, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, Reggie Miller and others were coached by Bird when they made an appearance in the 2000 NBA Finals.
We’ll see if Granger can help the Pacers in their quest to return this year, even after the brutal honesty of Bird.
What do you think of Bird’s comments?
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