Wow! Long day at the office. So long in fact, I feel like the "J.O., a trade to the Lakers would be fun" comments over the weekend never happened. Mark Montieth came in and cleaned up the Jermaine O'Neal clarifications quite nicely. Except J.O. didn't clarify his comments, instead choosing to flat out deny making the bulk of the inflamatory trade talk.
Regarding Sam Alipour's quote about Bird being a hard man to deal with...
O'Neal said he believes the Pacers can reach the playoffs next season with their current roster, and spoke positively about O'Brien, who will install a faster-paced offense.
"We have a team that's coming back that was thrown into the fire pretty quickly (after the eight-player trade with Golden State) and never really got comfortable," he said. "Giving them a full year is the most interesting part.
"The key thing is for everybody to come in a lot better than they were last year. Give the new guys (Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu) a chance to come into a fresh training camp and get their feet wet. There will be a big difference between how they played this year and last year. That was a tough situation to come into, especially with a team that hadn't missed the playoffs in 10 years."
The truth will set you free, and I actually felt liberated by what I thought were J.O.'s true feelings. Now I feel like J.O. is trying to appease me so I won't boo him if he isn't traded. No worries, I don't boo anyone who comes out and delivers a solid effort. But please, J.O., stop trying to mitigate the damage done over the weekend. Suddenly the words are overflowing out of both sides of your mouth and, despite the good intentions, I don't want to hear it anymore.