Jermaine O’Neal was traded to the Toronto Raptors for T.J. Ford and the #17 pick in the NBA Draft tomorrow night. O’Neal has been asking for a trade since Isiah Thomas was fired as the Pacers head coach. Last off-season a rumor swirled that he was going to the Lakers for either Lamar Odom or Andrew Bynum, but the Pacers wanted both of them and the Lakers didn’t move forward with the trade. The trade with Toronto could be a good thing for the Pacers, only if Ford stays healthy and the player selected at #17 can step in right away and help the troubled franchise.
Jermaine O’Neal hasn’t been the same since he was involved in the “Palace Brawl” a few seasons ago. After he served his suspension, he wasn’t the same on the court for the rest of that season and last couple years he has been out with various injuries. He is due to make 20+ million each of the next two seasons and the Pacers were smart to make a move for a point guard. Indiana needed to either make a move and trade for a point guard or draft a point guard (who would have either been D.J. Augustin or Russel Westbrook). Augustin is in the same mold as their current point guard Jamaal Tinsley, he can make plays, but either have a consistent jumpshot, same could be said for Ford. The different between Tinsley and Ford/Augustin is that they haven’t been a team disruption off the court. Tinsley will still end up on the team ’cause he has a large salary, but with Ford starting and Tinsley coming off the bench, their backcourt could be pretty nice.
On the Toronto side of this, you have a GM in Colangelo that is used to winning. He plays a faster style of basketball and Jose Calderon seems like a better fit at point guard. The front court of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal will give the Eastern Conference a migraine. Toronto takes on a huge contract for the next two seasons, but with the addition of O’Neal, if he stays healthy, can cement a playoff spot next season.
I’m not defending Larry Bird as team president, but I have faith that the moves he is making is going to eventually make sense. I admit that the Harrington/Jackson to Golden State for Murphy/Dunleavy still makes no sense, but Jackson was a distraction and they had to package Harrington with him to send him packing.
The color barrier may be broken this year if the Pacers pick another white guy with the #11 or #17 picks tomorrow. I think that Joe Alexander or Kosta Koufos are on their radar, but it isn’t certain that Alexander will be there at #11 or Koufos will be there at #17. If they pick either one, they could actually put a five white guys on the floor at once. Jeff Foster, Travis Diener, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and either one of the draft picks. As “America’s White Boy,” it would be a proud moment in white boy history. I am not sure what is up with Bird, but before he came in, the only white boy on the team was either Rik Smits or Detlef Schrempf (Austin Croshere was around, but I choose not to remember his tenure). Larry Bird is down with the white boy and I my friend, am down with Bird.