Friday , Jun , 22 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Jermaine O’Neal Unlikely To Join Kobe Bryant & Los Angeles Lakers

Indiana sideline boss, Jim O’Brien, believes O’Neal will be staying with the Pacers … What does this mean for the Lakers? … Remember, the purple-and-gold had been trying to acquire O’Neal to keep Bryant happy … Will this force Kobe to push even harder for a trade? … Click here for news and analysis …

Mike Wells, a writer with the Indianapolis Star, reports on the keeping :

Jim O’Brien isn’t a gambler. But the new Indiana Pacers coach said he believes the odds favor All-Star forward Jermaine O’Neal wearing a Pacers uniform next season.

"I’ve sat down and talked at length with Jermaine and where he sees his career going," O’Brien said from his office Thursday afternoon. "If I’m his coach next year, which I expect to be and want to be, my job and Jermaine’s job as leaders is to be on the same page, which I think we will be, and we both need to be examples for the team."

O’Neal, along with Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, are the marquee names being discussed in trade rumors.

O’Neal has said he doesn’t want to stay if the Pacers rebuild.

"I know trades are hard to make when you’re talking about a big trade involving somebody like Jermaine O’Neal or Kevin Garnett because they are extremely important to the future of your franchise, and you cannot make a mistake, nor will we make a mistake about that," O’Brien said. "I have a sense that the odds are against the fact that Jermaine O’Neal will be traded. It’s just reality. . . . With that in mind, I’m playing the odds. I’m planning on coaching him."

 My Quick Take: The sports world has been buzzing with and trade rumors.

However, hoop heads have slept on O’Neal, forgetting this all-star four-man was available and could be had for the right price.

But his availability has changed-he now seems unavailable. Indiana coach, Jim O’Brien, believes O’Neal will be staying with the club.

This news is important for both Pacer and fans. First, O’Neal was a legit MVP candidate as recently as three years ago. But he’s struggled with a number of injuries and a declining supporting cast.

If O’Neal heals up and gets a couple of new teammates, then Indiana makes the playoffs. Anything, and I do mean anything, can happen in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana’s front office realize they’re better off rebuilding around O’Neal instead of starting over without him.

Second, this does further damage to Bryant’s slim chances of returning to the Lakers. The all-world guard has been telling everybody, including two random guys outside of a California restaurant, that the purple-and-gold must upgrade his supporting cast if they want to keep him.

Bryant had been hoping for . This deal first fell apart at the trade deadline. And recently took their Hall of Fame point guard off the trading block.

Over the last few weeks, the Lakers had been trying to appease Bryant by acquiring O’Neal. Indiana wanted Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. L.A. refused, feeling the price was too high.

I’m sure this botched deal contributed to Kobe’s recent trade demand in Spain. And with O’Neal probably staying in Indiana, Bryant will continue to be unhappy and push for a trade.

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