Pacers president Larry Bird doesn't always reveal the whole truth regarding what he's thinking about the top team in the East, but he rarely fails to deliver enough candid comments to certain reporters which offer plenty of meat to chew on.
On Saturday, Bob Kravitz reported plenty of juicy quotes from Bird regarding Danny Granger and his status with the team after finally returning to the court on Friday night. After taking a shot at Granger for his offseason work habits earlier in his career when he was healthy, Bird mentioned he was not actively considering trading Granger before the end of the year.
As he always does when discussing trade scenarios, Bird qualified the comments by saying that if another team brings him a deal including Granger that would help the Pacers get better he would have to give it a look. But remember that Granger and Bird made a quiet pact to grind through the lean years together, so if Granger has a chance to enjoy what is likely his final year in Indy by contributing to a legit championship effort, then it would be a fitting way for 33 to go out.
"You know how I feel about Danny," Bird said. "He brings so much more to our team than people realize. Watching the game Friday night, our team finally looked complete. Just his toughness, his ability to shoot the ball from the outside. What we're going to need is for him to defend. It all boils down to how he defends, and that'll determine how many minutes he gets."
Bird also laid the decision to go over the salary cap to bring back Granger next year on a cut-rate deal, along with Lance Stephenson, on owner Herb Simon. But what isn't mentioned is the new punitive luxury tax which not only costs teams more but also limits their revenue sharing. That creates a double-whammy that the Pacers aren't in position to flirt with financially.
Like many others (present company included), Bird has changed his tune regarding Granger starting when he's fully back in the groove. Lance Stephenson is far better than expected at the start of the season and has control of his starting spot.
Backing up to the offeseason work comments, I'm sure that quote won't be news to Granger. The results are pretty apparent and I'm sure he's heard it before from Bird. Early in his career, Granger did improve his perimeter shot and scoring ability with the ball, but his handle always remained loose and as Bird mentioned, he had to play his game into shape early in the year.
It is even more glaring when you see the recent results of the crazy work Paul George and Roy Hibbert have put into their games to get better every year. Lance Stephenson also appears to be following PG and Hibbert in that relentless pursuit of greatness.
But Granger is still be a scoring weapon the Pacers can use with the reserve unit. There are plenty of minutes and opportunities to impact winning for Granger on this team, this year. The Pacers are all in for a title run this year, so that's all that really matters right now.
So please, read the whole Kravitz article and share you impressions on what Bird had to say.