"Whether I'm back in the starting job or not," Granger said. "I thinks that's really irrelevant at this point. If I'm not healthy that's not really going to matter."
Granger is keeping his cards close to the vest regarding the state of his knee even though he's been playing full-court pick-up games for over a month with no problems while the Pacers training staff monitors his activity. While I will still wait to proclaim Granger "back" when I see him actually play and then recover and play again with no problems, my outlook on the situation greatly improved despite Granger wanting to let the process of training camp play out.
Yes, everything is rosy on Media Day and no one wants to admit any looming negative issues in the building. But compared to last year, the Granger outlook is different and, yes, better. First, Frank Vogel stated he expects Granger to be a full participant in practices, although with the two-a-days and the heavy workload in camp, he may sit out a day or two at the training staff's discretion. This compared to last year when Granger was not a full participant despite expectations he'd eventually be ready to play.
But the thing that flipped my thinking on the topic and made me think Granger is lying in the weeds a little bit and minimizing expectations, just waiting to surprise and exceed those expectations was the way David West responded to a question regarding starting Lance or Danny.
The glint in West's eye and the early signs of a grin as he spoke revealed as much as his words which gave a strong indication that Granger will be a factor this year and likely returning to the starting lineup sooner than we think.
"Danny's confident," David West said before pausing with a slow nod and pursing his lips to suppress a smile. "Danny feels good about where he is now."
West went on to explain what he's observed which sounds like a Granger who is not in 'aw, shucks, I hope I'm just healthy" mode behind closed doors.
"He's hungry," West said. "He's been aggressive. He's got a little edge on him. I know Danny's a competitive guy, so Lance is going to have his work cut out for him. He's almost in a mode where he feels like he has to prove who he is and what he is. Ultimately it's Frank's decision, but I know Danny is coming back to be who he was, if not better. Any time you have an edge and you're trying to prove something, feel like you're not getting the respect you deserve, it gives you incentive to play that much harder. He's motivated that way."
After that media-friendly explanation delivered like only DWest can deliver it (could listen to this guy talk basketball all day), I envisioned Danny enjoying his comeback and the pick-up games and letting his teammates know about it. Suddenly, I can also envision his return to the starting lineup for the Pacers this year, as well.