Pretty excellent bit of trickery and trivia in Lee Jenkins’ excellent Sports Illustrated profile of the Pacers’ Paul George, but you’re going to have to set your brain clock back to the summer of 2010 to have it make sense. Just think about the World Cup or something.
[Agent Aaron] Mintz sent [George] to train with another client in L.A., Indiana forward Danny Granger, and they grew so close that George celebrated his 19th birthday at Granger’s house. The Pacers held the 10th pick and were interested in George, even though he played the same position as Granger and represented a potential quarterback controversy. “He was raw,” said former Pacers general manager David Morway, “but you saw his athleticism and agility. He has all the attributes you want to build a team around.” Seeking a scouting report from one of his own, Bird asked Mintz to have Granger call him. But by the day of the draft, at 1 a.m., Bird still had not heard from Granger, and he’d left two messages himself. Mintz called Granger and told him to put his phone on mute. Then he dialed George, and without telling him, looped Granger into the call. Mintz asked George, “Where do you want to go in the draft tomorrow?”
“Indiana,” George replied.
“Why?” Mintz asked.
“I think I can learn so much from Danny.”
Mintz hung up on George and asked Granger, “Can you call Bird now?”
Against his self-interest, Granger gave a glowing endorsement[.]
Little did Danny Granger know that within three years Paul George would grow to stand 8-foot-4, be an All-Star, All-Defense and All-NBA team member and the league’s Most Improved Player. Granger’s reluctant recommendation might have been “glowing,” but nothing can be that glowing unless he was talking about the incandescent properties of tungsten.
Nonetheless, risky play by the agent here. Things sure have worked out great for the Pacers, but the idea of getting an All-Star to recommend that his team draft a player at his position is probably a pretty tough sell. Then when the All-Star gets hurt, and the recommended player becomes an All-Star, said agent probably has a lot of conflicting interests going on. I’m not really in the business of feeling bad for agents, but I can definitely understand Granger’s initial reluctance to make the call, especially because what I’m sure he was worried about — being surpassed as the best player and face of the franchise by a guy who is on the team partially because of Granger’s own recommendation — eventually came true, and I’m sure that could be hard to deal with. It’s a tangled web we weave.
Now all the Pacers need is for Paul George to call them and say that Danny Granger’s still got it, that his knees are actually capable of functioning in an NBA setting and that they’re currently planning a huge joint birthday party to unveil the latest modifications to Granger’s Batcave. Though if that doesn’t work out, it sure sounds like Granger would be a decent talent evaluator, and it’s always good to have a backup plan.