Jermaine O'Neal Speaks: Ready for Trade to the Lakers

Jermaine O'Neal has finally spoken and his words leave the Pacers no option other than to trade him. Forget the fresh coat of paint and new carpet, time for some full demo work. Take the pain, get it done, and let's rebuild this thing once and for all.

Since the O'B hiring came and went without a peep from J.O., I figured he was not interested in leading the Pacers anymore. I just assumed everyone would keep mum until one day they'd drop a blockbuster on us. All that has changed now. Since J.O. has confirmed his intentions, which include opting out after the upcoming season if he's not traded, the future is clear as a bell.  Big ups to Arash Markazi of SI.com for asking and getting answers to the only questions that matter.

"I would welcome a trade to the Lakers," said O'Neal, who averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots last season. "Indiana has given me the opportunity to establish myself as a really good player in this league, but they're into rebuilding and going really young, and I'm just not in a position physically to go through another five to six years with a lot of losses and a lot of down time."
What else is there to say? The nice thing is, there's no bitterness or acrimony (at least publicly) between the Pacers and J.O. It is just time. We thought he was the franchise player, it didn't work out, wish him the best, and let him fly. Doing so will also unshackle the Pacers efforts to rebuild. J.O. has the seventh highest salary in the league, but hasn't given that type of production. You can point to injuries, but after three years of getting 65 cents on the dollar, cut your losses and put the money elsewhere.

Since J.O. has put a stake in the ground, his trade value diminishes some, but not with the Lakers. Kobe Bryant has been driving stakes in the ground all summer. The Lakers are as desperate to make a move as the Pacers are now. Both sides need to take their time to get it right, but they gotta get it done.
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