INDIANAPOLIS – Messing with a good thing isn’t something on their mind. At least that’s how Frank Vogel feels after watching practice on Tuesday.
During the workout the Pacers head coach moved Danny Granger to the “Blue” team for a scrimmage period. It was another step for the forward who missed the first 52 games of the season with patella tendonitis in his left knee in his most significant injury of his seven-year career.
Opposite of him on the “Blue” team was Paul George, who has come into his own in Granger’s absence. His 17.5 points per game along with 7.7 rebounds a contest earned the third-year player his first selection to the All-Star game while seeming to take on the scoring role that was once occupied by Granger.
The “Blue” team will likely be the starting lineup for the Pacers for much of the second half of the season as Granger prepares to return for the first time either Wednesday against the Bobcats or after the upcoming All-Star break.
“We’re gonna see how he responded tomorrow morning,” said Vogel when asked whether Granger could return as soon as Wednesday, when the Pacers faced the Bobcats at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
If he does, Vogel isn’t worried about George and Granger finding a way to co-exist in the Pacers’ lineup-and he cited an example he saw when the two shared a jersey on Tuesday.
“As soon as I put Danny on the blue team today, Paul George’s face lit up,” said Vogel. “It was just ‘Let’s go, just like old times’ I think he said. ‘Let’s go get them’. So I think they’re itching to play together and that’s what its got to be about.
“I think they’re going to be the way they’ve always been which is great teammates, great respect for each other.”
Playing on the floor at the same time isn’t something foreign to the pair since they each started over 60 games last season. But with the team 31-21 and in a good rhythm without Granger, George says the team will have to find the right way to incorperate Granger back into the rotation.
“I guess all we can do now is go with the flow,” said George. “I think we can play well off each other. That’s the only thing I have to have my mind on is hopefully we can play well together.”
How much and what Granger will be able to contribute will be a question only time may be able to tell. When healthy Granger led the Pacers in scoring the last five seasons, including an 18.7 points per game average last season but Vogel will be patient when it comes to production from the forward.
“It’s still gonna be some time. I want to warn everybody about expecting to see a 40 minute All-Star level Danny Granger right away its going to take time. Especially with rhythm, timing and conditioning,” said Vogel.