Observation Deck (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday May 9, 2007 12:51PM; Updated: Wednesday May 9, 2007 1:54PM
Temper your enthusiasm, both coasts, in regards to the possible acquisition of Pacers power forward Jermaine O'Neal by either the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks. Various reports have O'Neal either telling friends he wants to end up a Laker or telling the Indiana front office that he prefers a trade to New York. Either deal is doable: The Knicks have either Stephon Marbury's or Steve Francis' big salary to use, along with young and talented bigs like Channing Frye or David Lee. The Lakers have Lamar Odom to nearly match up the salaries and a blue-chip prospect in 19-year-old center Andrew Bynum.
But if you're the Pacers, what would interest you in a deal like this? The Pacers should have blown up that team a year ago, and they should still be actively pursuing trades involving anyone on that roster, but what's the point if you have to take on a salary like Marbury's or Francis' (even for the right to a stud like Lee)? Though Larry Bird's stock-in-trade is bad trades, there's no way he's taking on another shoot-first point guard from the Knicks in exchange for a borderline All-Star big man, even if it means getting a stud like Lee.
As for Odom, he has played his entire pro career in hot spots like L.A. and Miami -- how do you think he's going to take to having to ham-and-egg it in the Pacers' frontcourt with Mike Dunleavy and trying to wrest the ball away from Jamaal Tinsley while playing in Indiana?
NBA players play half their season on the road and go wherever they want during the offseason, so we're not big on the idea of them not liking life on the farm once they've seen Paris. But Odom had to be routinely reminded to stay aggressive in the bright lights and big city of L.A., so how's he going to act with the Pacers?
In other words, for O'Neal to wind up with the Knicks or Lakers, a third team, one that needs Odom or could handle Francis, has to get involved.
O'Neal's best hope, beyond that? The anxiety and optimism that always set in during the NBA's offseason malaise. GMs can talk themselves into anything and convince themselves that any sort of deal (whether involving extensions, firings, signings or trades) is the one that will set their franchise in the right direction.
2 of 3