Saturday , Aug , 25 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Indiana Pacers Must Learn Kevin Garnett Theory & Trade Jermaine O’Neal Well Before Opt-Out Clause Hits

So why keep O’Neal? Why put off the inevitable? Trading the veteran post would expedite Indiana’s rebuilding process and provide O’Neal with a fresh start. This seems to make sense to everybody except the Pacers …

CNNSI reports that Jermaine O’Neal will likely stay with the Indiana Pacers:

The All-Star forward was one of the players most discussed about in trade rumors this summer, with talk he might end up in New York, Los Angeles or New Jersey.

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said Friday that Indiana‘s roster was virtually locked. When asked whether it was safe to say O’Neal would be a Pacer at the start of the season, Walsh said: "Yes, it is. That’s the way we’re thinking of it."

Walsh didn’t rule out a trade completely, but he never does.

"Trades can always come up, but in our minds, Jermaine is here and our team’s intact," Walsh told The Associated Press.

He even offered that the Pacers aren’t receiving calls about O’Neal any more.

"That’s done," Walsh said.

My Quick Take: After much speculation, the finally made the decision to keep . This is the wrong decision for all parties involved.

Indiana used to be an Eastern power. And O’Neal used to be the club’s franchise player, a perennial MVP candidate, who could rebound, score, block shots, and provide leadership.

Key word is used to. Indiana missed the playoffs last season-the first time they’ve missed the NBA’s second season since 1995-1996. The Pacers have been active during the summer, but none of their moves will improve their status as a mediocre team.

O’Neal, while still a valuable blending star, is no longer a top-flight NBA player. Over the last few years, he’s battled injuries and suspensions. His game-like the Pacers- has stagnated.

So why keep O’Neal? Why put off the inevitable? Trading the veteran post would expedite Indiana‘s rebuilding process and provide O’Neal with a fresh start. This seems to make sense to everybody except the Pacers.

Other teams have interest in O’Neal -even though he makes 20 million dollars per season. The and have each offered Indiana interesting packages of players.   

But the Pacers are holding out for the perfect offer. Here’s the problem with that strategy: O’Neal’s trade value will soon decline because he can become a free agent in two seasons by exercising an opt-out clause.

Call it the theory. Garnett’s trade value declined the closer he got to his opt-out clause. For example, a few years back, the Wolves could have gotten three of the Bulls’ young stars for The Big Ticket. This summer, with Garnett a year away from exercising his opt-out clause and becoming a free agent, the Wolves settled on a lesser package from the Celtics.

Donnie Walsh and Indiana‘s front office are too smart not to see the upside in trading O’Neal. They must forget the past and get on with what needs to be done.

Should the Pacers trade or keep O’Neal? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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