Enjoy the free health care, JO!

Jermaine O’Neal and his bad joints are on their way to Toronto. The initial reaction of the (remaining) Pacer fans will most likely be mixed-positive. Jermaine has simply missed too many games the past few seasons. You can always count on O’Neal for a mid-season and then late-season injury. This pattern began soon after the palace brawl and has gotten progressively worse.

JO had the greatest upside of any Pacer I can remember. There was a moment when it seemed like he would help get Reggie his elusive ring and maybe a ring or two just for himself. David Stern made sure that did not happen. First, by overseeing the absolute nadir of NBA officiating: the 2004 playoffs. No gaping head wound, no foul. Stern followed it up by ham-stringing one of his most reliable franchises in the Artest affair.

I am a fan of the trade, but only for financial reasons. TJ Ford will probably suck. His numbers suggest he’s not nearly as good of a pure point guard as Tinsley. At least Ford is cheap relative to O’Neal. Nesterovic appears to be worthless, averaging about 8 points and less than 5 rebounds per game. But his contract expires after this year which brings us to the crux of the argument.

The huge amount owed to JO hampers Larry Bird’s ability to make moves in free agency. This begs the question: Is cap room that important in the NBA? Just like in the NFL, the good players are signed to long-term contracts before becoming free agents. The hope has to be that the team can build a solid core of role players around Granger and Dunleavy. The 17th pick in the draft doesn’t hurt either.

Will the Pacers be a little worse in the short term? Possibly. But, Jermaine only averaged 13 points per game. He’s a twelfth year vet who misses a ton of time. Even though he’s just now turning 30, I don’t see any reasons for optimism as far as his health. Let’s not forget the fact that O’Neal doesn’t at all fit the up-tempo game the team has been aiming for the past two seasons.

We’ll see what happens. This much I know: Larry Bird did something to make us talk about the Pacers. Impressive. Now all he has to do is somehow steal Eric Gordon with the eleventh pick.

DZ Comments: Most of my thoughts can be seen in the comments from the previous post, but here is a positive breakdown of the trade. I would take issue with it on several points:
1. They got something for JO-really? An expiring contract, a pick with next to no real value, and a point guard with spine damage. Yeah, color me uninspired.
2. They got a point guard-seems like they were going to draft one anyway
3. They can trade Tinsley-Uh, really? To who? And for what? Sorry. Tinsley isn’t going anywhere. This is utterly false.
4. The draft-Really? The 11th pick on a very rare occasion yields a player. But they already had that pick. How many times in the last 20 years has the 17th pick yielded a decent player?
5. Cap Space- “They can pursue a big free agent (or take one in a trade) to team up with Ford, Danny Granger and the draft picks, and they’ll have the next generation of Pacers up and running”
ah, the mythical cap space. Again, WHO IS EVEN AVAILABLE? Note: he doesn’t suggest a real player. Just the phantom F/A.
If the Pacers sign someone good next year, this is a good trade. Otherwise, it does nothing but make the team cheaper, not better. Since I don’t think there is anyone worthy of signing who is likely to come to Indiana, I don’t see that this deal helps us. It helps the Simons, and that’s cool. I love the Simons. It doesn’t help the fans or the product on the floor.

In summary: this isn’t a bad deal or a good deal. It’s a deal. It saves money. It’s unlikely to improve the club. It’s about as exciting to me as staring at tax forms. The Pacers are in the NBA’s no-man’s land. The only hope is to seriously tank a whole season so as to move up into the kind of draft territory where they can either get a player who is good or trade for a player who is good. This is exciting news? 20-62 here we come. Pardon me while I throw up.

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