Agness’ Twitter Mailbag: Nov. 22, 2013
Each week, I’ll answer a collection of questions sent to me via Twitter, @ScottAgness. Tweet me your question for the chance to have yours included.
@LukeAtMeNow__: What place do you have Paul George in the MVP race today?
At this moment, I have him third behind LeBron James (Heat) and Kevin Durant (Thunder). All three are the top player on a title contender. Although James’ numbers aren’t career highs (25.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the floor) like George’s, he’s still the best in the league. He’s also an excellent defender. Durant, too, is having another stellar year. Keep in mind that the big name players tend to get more votes, especially these two who are usually showcased on national television at least once per week. George, just 23, is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s posting personal bests, he’s scored at least 20 points in 10 of the first 11 games, and his upgraded play is the primary reason the Pacers have the best record int he league. For him to even be in the conversation speaks volumes to the work that he’s put in, and how the Pacers are succeeding. The MVP is often the best player on the team that finishes with the best record.
@Jonathankav1: When is Granger back? How many minutes do you see him playing?
That’s the million dollar question. It’s one everyone wants answered, including Granger himself. It’s not the knee, Granger and the team continue to stress. His left calf was first strained more than a month ago and they’ve taken it slow, being very patient in hopes that it won’t become a nagging injury throughout the season. They want him back, and back for good, but their superb start has afforded them the ability to be extra conservative. He wants to be out there and be part of the team. Whenever he goes through a few practices pain free, then Frank Vogel may insert him into a game. Only then — and for roughly 15 minutes to start. Though he’s out, the veteran is still traveling with the team.
@scottneukam: What effect will Granger’s return have on the roster? Solomon Hill sent to D-League and/or Butler released?
This is tough to determine until Granger actually returns, makes it through a game and the soreness that’ll likely occur afterwards. Vogel told me it’s unlikely that they utilize the D-League for Solomon Hill this year because he’s shown that he can contribute and he’ll learn more by being around the team. Butler’s a tremendous locker room guy. They may keep his contract for the veteran’s minimum unless than plan to make moves at the trade deadline. The key date for Butler is Jan. 10, when all contracts become guaranteed for the year.
@willrettig: Does Granger get dealt before trade deadline?
I still say no. Right now, his only value to another team is that his contract expires after the season. A team may want him if he’s back playing, and playing well, but so would the Pacers. I’m never surprised with moves in the NBA, especially closer to the deadline, but I don’t see it happening.
@qandrews9428: Vogel switched up rotations at NY, is he going to stick with Cope and Orlando as the 2 and 3 off the bench for the time being?
I’m not traveling with the team so I don’t know his take on it, but I think it was primarily done to match up with New York’s small ball style. He typically plays Paul George the entire first quarter, but he replaced him with Copeland a few minutes before the quarter came to a close. Part of that was because George was out of rhythm and struggling. Solomon Hill’s role will shuffle, depending on the opponent and Vogel is still trying to find ways to use Copeland, who is a liability on defense — particularly at the ’4′ spot.
@D_callyay: What grade do you give the bench this season so far?
B. C.J. Watson has been steady, already filling in nicely for Hill in the starting lineup for three games — all wins. Luis Scola looks better in the system with each game. Vogel even played David West and Scola together, like we witnessed often in training camp, in their overtime win against New York on Wednesday. Coming from a totally different offensive style, Copeland is still trying to grasp the system while also trying to find holes he can fill with this team. Orlando Johnson has contributed in the 14 minutes he receives each game and rookie Solomon Hill seems like the perfect fit for this team. He’s mature, a quick learner, a solid defender and a team first guy.
@SlikSmits: Nearly impossible question to answer. But personal opinion. What’s Lance’s contract gonna look like?
Yes, difficult to say at this point. I predicted in my last mailbag that he would be offered anywhere from $5-8 million from the Pacers. I’ll stick to that.