I just thought I'd put myself in Jermaine O'Neal's shoes for a minute. His team has done pretty well without him, not so well with him. He's got to be wondering at this point if he's going to help or hurt this team when he comes back. If he comes back, and we start skidding again, then what? What I mean by that is where does his mind go?
This isn't like Reggie Miller. When it was time for Reggie to take a lesser role in the offense he was still able to play his same game, just in a lesser role. With Jermaine it's different. At 29 (an old 29), we're asking him to go away from 20-10 All-Star #1 option, and become Vlade Divac on offense and maintain his same defensive presence. That's what we're asking, but that's not what he believes we're asking. He still wants to be 20-10 Jermaine, and it's going to take him to tell himself, or someone else to tell him that he's no longer that player for him to be the most effective player he can be.
How tough is all this on Jermaine mentally though? He wants to be out there helping his team, but there's something he's doing or not doing when he's on the court that actually hurts the team. How does that wear on him? At this stage of his career he's under pressure to get to 100%. Then when he gets to 100% he has to get out there and change his style of play within a new system and try not to slow the system down.
Much easier for someone in the early part of their career or even at the midpoint. But for someone starting their decline, is this really fair? I think it would be easier to adjust to a new style of play for a player his age in a new system. When players spend so long in one city, they develop a routine. That's why sometimes a change of scenery is best for a player to resurrect their career. Would it be best for O'Neal to start new in a new city and try to get the most out of what's left of his career? Or can he do it here? If you were in his shoes what would you be thinking right now?