Mike Wells reports the trade of Jermaine O'Neal to the Toronto Raptors for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the 17th pick is back on and this time the teams have agreed in principle on the deal pending physicals. Nice work Mr. Wells. Who's wrong now? I knew Bird was a lilttle too sensitive on the topic yesterday.
Big ups to Brent for posting the Yahoo! Sports report on the deal, as well. With multiple sources confirming these reports, it must be a go this time.
In this case, the pending physicals are more than a formality but I'd have to think both sides know that the key players (JO and TJ) have a history preventing a completely clean bill of health. Either way, we'll all pay close attention to the player the Raptors pick at 17 tomorrow night.
Needless to say, this is a huge step for the Pacers in transforming the roster for the future. Without one player absorbing a third of the cap, the team has room to wiggle around a little bit and plan for more moves. That is the bottom line with this deal. Gather a few assets and become more flexible at the same time.
This isn't about shoring up the point guard situation with TJ Ford. In my view, whatever Ford gives the Pacers will be a bonus. I know that sounds crazy when you see the $25 million left on Ford's contract, but this deal is about a fresh start for the organization. Not only does it clear JO's massive max contract number but it also moves a dominant personality in the organization. A personality that hasn't always been on the same page with management. It's been no secret that Larry Bird's demands of JO and JO's expectations of Bird have been in conflict. Now the organization is free of that wave of tension between the two which had to impact everyone no matter how much they downplayed the effect.
The way this week has gone, I'll wait until the organizations speak before I pay homage to the Jermaine O'Neal era in Indy. But I can tell you one thing, tomorrow is going to be a blast. See you at the Fieldhouse.
UPDATE: Bruno has a report up on the trade reports including a non-denial from Larry Bird.
Bird did not confirm the reports Wednesday night, but neither did he slam the door.
"There's no trade to announce," he said. "It's all speculation."