Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird isn't afraid to tell us how he really feels.
Dating back to his playing days, Bird has always shot straight from the hip. The NBA's former Executive of the Year hasn't turned over a new leaf either, aiming his latest batch of honesty toward oft-injured forward Danny Granger.
"He doesn't work hard enough (in the offseason)," Bird said of Granger, per the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz. "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."
Hopefully Granger is wearing his fire-proof armor, because if not, he just got burned by a white-hot blow torch.
Consider Bird's critique two parts personal opinion and one part frustration. Granger, a one-time All-Star, appeared in just five games last season and missed Indy's first 25 contests of 2013-14 as well.
By season's end, the Pacers will have paid him more than $27 million over the last two years for what can be characterized as only frequent absences and subpar playing. It's only natural Bird be irritated for not getting adequate bang for Indiana's buck.
That's all assuming Bird doesn't trade Granger before this season is out. He told Kravitz the Pacers aren't actively shopping him, but didn't rule it out entirely.
"I've talked to Danny, talked to his agent; I'm not looking to trade him," Bird said. "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."
For his part, Granger has made it clear he wishes to remain in Indiana.
"It's really important for me to remain a Pacer," he said, via Kravitz. "I feel like I've been a big part of the building, gone through a lot of the bad years and now the good. I'd love to stay, but I understand the business of basketball and I understand that I might be a trade commodity."
Trading Granger won't be easy since he's valuable only as an expiring contract and the Pacers aren't flush with first-round buffers. So while it's an option, Bird doesn't appear to be in any rush, nor should he.
Indiana holds the league's third-highest winning percentage through its first 26 games and has already established itself as a legitimate contender without Granger. There's no pressure for the Pacers to trade him, even if he doesn't work hard enough.
Fact is, Granger is just there right now. He can inject instant offense into Indiana's rotation when healthy, but if not, the Pacers won't be distraught. They're already positioning themselves for a title run without him.
"That's how much time I have," Granger said, insinuating he hopes to be 100 percent come playoff time, per USA Today's Candace Buckner. "It's not a thing where I have to rush or do this or do that. As long as I'm ready by the playoffs, I'll be fine."
"Fine" might not be the right word. If he works hard enough to please Bird, then he'll be "fine."
Outside of using his diligence to win over the blonde-haired man upstairs, though, "expendable" better describes Granger than "fine" ever could.
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