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Jermaine O'Neal Might Shut It Down For The Year

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Hmm, this makes things interesting. Mike Wells brings the goods after interviewing Jermaine O'Neal about his frustrating knee injury. J.O. has no plans to deal with the status quo on his knee and labor through the season.

O'Neal said his knee, which he had surgery on last April, has not fully recovered and that he returned to the court too soon.

"That's really the prime option for me," O'Neal said Sunday afternoon, of sitting out the rest of the season. "We're going to rehab now like it was the summer, with an extensive rehab. If that consists of a month or the rest of the season, I need to take the necessary steps to not come back on something that's not really healthy.

"That's the thing we have been saying. It's OK, but it really hasn't really been OK."
J.O. is rightfully concerned that all the attempts to mask the pain and squeeze out a few games here and there this year may cause him far more pain in the long run and shorten his career.

Without a response from Larry Joe Legend or O'B, we don't know if this is all news to the Pacers. I must say, hearing reports of J.O.'s name in trade talks with the Nets was surprising. Having heard LJL say that center, power forward, and point guard are the key positions NBA teams need secure, bringing in Carter with four more years on his contract didn't make sense. If wing players are the easiest type of player to find, why lay out so much of the cap on the position. I guess you could always turn around and move Carter, but it is a moot point now. These comments from J.O. ought to snuff out any further trade talks this year.

Check out the full Q&A with J.O. and you can tell he's not in a good place. He's fighting for his health, his basketball career, and his reputation on the court.
Q: What would happen if you tried to continue to play on your knee?

A: If I continue to play, it can not only be detrimental to me getting back to the level I'm used to playing or beyond that. The four, five, six years I have left in my career, (it) could really affect that. . . . (Playing at) 60 percent may be causing me to shorten my career and beyond that.

It could have a major effect on my health. From all the painkillers, the injections, being able to walk. I walk with a limp now at 29 years old because the knee is so irritated in so many different areas.

It's something that we feel like, if I totally rehab, it can get better. Playing is something I obviously want to do, but it's not in the cards right now. It's frustrating.
While moving J.O. is now out of the question, so are the chances of J.O. opting out of the final two years and $45 million of his contract. Last summer he talked of doing what's best for him and the franchise and that he wanted to contend for a title. Well, it would take a humanitarian gesture on his part to leave the max money on the table to go play somewhere else. I'd be stunned if a team offered J.O. half that much money no matter how healthy he claims to be next summer. Nope, he's riding out the max deal with the Pacers and this situation sets up perfectly for him to save face and try to do right by the Pacers. If he is staying, I hope he does shut it down and make sure the knee is golden before returning.

I'm sure there will be more to come once we hear what the rest of the Pacers think of this plan.