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    Tree People to the Core! indygeezer's Avatar
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    Default His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    November 30, 2007


    His best in past?
    O'Neal certain he'll return to old form, be central to Pacers' success

    By Mike Wells
    mike.wells@indystar.com

    SEATTLE -- It seemed like just yesterday that Jermaine O'Neal was a perennial All-Star, appearing in national commercials and challenging for league MVP honors.


    Three-plus years, even more injuries and numerous trade rumors later, O'Neal's stock, status and numbers have plummeted to levels not seen since he rode the bench in Portland.
    O'Neal has missed 73 games the past three-plus seasons due to injuries. His latest setback is to his left knee, which required offseason surgery and has limited him to 10 games this season.
    "You're always going to be open to criticism in professional sports," said O'Neal, who is averaging 13.2 points -- 11 fewer than in 2004-05. "I know people are saying I'm not the same player I used to be. I accept it because it is what it is. I've been hurt the last few years. I believe once I get over the hump, and I believe I'm going to get over it, I'm going to be the player I was before."
    When O'Neal gets healthy is anybody's guess. He might play tonight at Seattle.
    The Pacers are 5-1 without him this season, leading many to wonder if they would be better off without him. (They are 84-81 with him in the past three-plus seasons, 44-44 without.) Several scouts who have attended recent games suggested they are better without him because his style doesn't mesh with coach Jim O'Brien's up-tempo offense.
    O'Brien and the Pacers adamantly dismiss such talk as nonsense.
    "This style will help his game," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said. "He is a great athlete. The halfcourt style doesn't appeal to his athleticism. When his leg settles down, he can get back to playing his old way."
    The Pacers have maintained all along that they are better when they run, but the numbers suggest they have had a difficult time mixing O'Neal's low-post scoring with their new approach. O'Neal is second on the team in assists, but the offense still slows down to get him involved.
    Without him, they are averaging 108 points and have knocked off playoff teams Dallas, Denver and Washington.
    With him, they have averaged 99.8 points and once lost six consecutive games. They've been held to 90 or fewer points five times this season. All five times O'Neal played, and the Pacers are 1-4 in those games.
    "We've made strides as a team, but those strides will be even greater when Jermaine gets back," said O'Brien, who is coaching his first scoring post player. "We run the same offense with or without him. We run the same defense with or without him."
    O'Neal spent the summer rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his left knee and getting into shape for O'Brien's offense.
    He hit the first of several snags when he collided with teammate Shawne Williams in practice. Then he slipped during a preseason game. The swelling in his knee caused him to sit out most of the preseason
    "I lost some confidence in my knee," O'Neal said. "I've never lost confidence in my abilities as a basketball player. That will never happen. It's all about my knee. I kind of underestimated my recovery time and the difficult part of having surgery. I thought at 29 years old I could bounce back and do things on the run. My body let me know that I can't do that anymore."
    O'Neal, who has led the Pacers in scoring the past six seasons, has only been a shade of his former self this season. He lacks explosiveness to the basket. He has a hard time shooting over defenders, evident by the number of times he has had his shot blocked. O'Neal has yet to score 20 points and he's shooting a career-worst 39 percent.
    His lack of production hasn't gone unnoticed.
    Nuggets coach George Karl, never one to bite his tongue, earlier called Danny Granger the Pacers' top scoring option and referred to Mike Dunleavy as the "glue" to the team.
    O'Neal sees validity in the criticism.
    "The wear and tear wore on me mentally because I couldn't move," O'Neal said. "I haven't played anywhere near the level I'm used to playing at. That was the real reason for the team, the training staff and I got together and said I needed to step away from this, because it got more frustrating than helpful."
    O'Neal is signed through 2009-10. He has the option to become a free agent after the season, but doing so would mean walking away from the remaining $43.345 million he is owed in hopes he could make more elsewhere.
    O'Neal isn't concerning himself with the future, except to deliver a message to critics who insist his career is declining.
    "I'm not going to be broken down," he said. "Do I believe I'm going to return to my form? Absolutely. I truly believe I'm going to return to my level."
    Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053.

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl.../1088/SPORTS04


    =====================

    I honestly hope he is right, but has there ever been a player that didn't think they could come back and compete? Oh, and say good-bye to any trde value JO had with this out in the open (as if GM's didn't already know) Now the PUBLIC pressure will not allow JO to be accepted in any package deals either IMO.
    Last edited by indygeezer; 11-30-2007 at 08:16 AM.
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Return to his level ? Perhaps so. But while good for him, would
    that be good for the Pacers overall ?

    They don't need 20 & 10, All-Star status the noteriety that comes
    with it from him. They need him to 'fit'.

    I'll believe it when I see it.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    lol@"he might play tonight in seattle"...no he won't. This day to day crap is stupid. Just put him on IR let him miss the next 5 and then we'll go from there. Really it's getting stupid wondering if he may or may not play.
    "GIMMIE DAT!"-DANGER

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by OnlyPacersLeft View Post
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    lol@"he might play tonight in seattle"...no he won't. This day to day crap is stupid. Just put him on IR let him miss the next 5 and then we'll go from there. Really it's getting stupid wondering if he may or may not play.
    I agree with you on the whole day to day stuff. If he is injured, shut him down and make sure he stays home for treatment. SWill and a little Murph can fill in fine at the 4 spot.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by OnlyPacersLeft View Post
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    lol@"he might play tonight in seattle"...no he won't. This day to day crap is stupid. Just put him on IR let him miss the next 5 and then we'll go from there. Really it's getting stupid wondering if he may or may not play.
    Just as a reminder, there is no more IR. Players no longer have to go out for 5 games when they are injured or fake injured to make IR spots.

    Teams can activate and de-activate players day to day to suit thier needs.

    In essance they are doing what you are saying, just without officially de-activating him.

    I'm kind of torn though about him staying home vs. going on the road with the team.

    Looks to me like he is already doing some day to day practices so if that is the case he needs to be on the road.

    As the Captain of the team he needs to be on the bench. He should be the first person off of the bench to meet the team coming off of the floor with words of encouragement and wisdom. It would be nice to see him wave a towl as well..

    Now unless he need daily PT with whirlpools, etc.

    Then if that is the case he should be here with the trainers, but if that is also the case then he is nowhere near ready to return.

    However here is what I really truely wonder.

    Jim O'Brien made a statement that Jermaine was not going to play until he could play at a high level but also (& here is the key IMO) practice every day.

    You guys do realize that Jermaine O'Neal did not practice at all last season from December on? He did shoot arounds but did not scrimmage or any other exercises with the team.

    That means that even after the trade, these new guys did not get to play with O'Neal except on the court.

    O'Brien does not seem to be the type that will let that go.

    Good for him.


    Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Peck View Post
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    It would be nice to see him wave a towl as well..
    What, and get lint all over those nice suits?

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    I'm watching ESPN and in the ticker at the bottom they show the game tonight and then right after the stat "Pacers 3-7 with O'Neal 5-1 without him"
    People are noticing what we are. I think a healthy O'Neal makes us much better. If he's not 100% then he probably is hurting us to an extent. All of us see his defense and nobody should question that. We are taking a lot of quick shots this year with the new offense.

    Two of our losses (Lakers,Toronto) were because both teams shot the lights out from the perimeter. I can't blame those on O'Neal. Every year you have games in which another team shoots great and unless you do also your going to get beat. I believe without O'Neal we still lose those games. Against Washington (2nd time) they were fired up because we had just beat them and they had lost about 6 in a row at home and were getting boo'ed, they played pretty well. Another loss was against the mighty Celtics where Pierce went off, the first game against Denver we scored 74pts in the first half and JO played in that game then we looked like a NBA D-league team in the 2nd half.

    I think this with and without O'Neal record is over rated right now.
    Last edited by aceace; 11-30-2007 at 04:44 PM. Reason: correction
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quite refreshing for Wells to write this article.

    Now it's out in the open and everyone has to deal with it, including JO and TPTB.
    .

    .

    .

    .


    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    I agree - he should take as much time as needed ala Shaq to recover from whatever it is that is bogging him down. All this forcing to play is not helping anyone get into any groove.

    There is no reason why JO could not get 20 10 within the system...

    surely he can also get it outside the system...but if Ike could avg. 14pts a game from the bench before injury - no reason why JO could not avg 20+ ...as long as he is healthy

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by bellisimo View Post
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    but if Ike could avg. 14pts a game from the bench before injury - no reason why JO could not avg 20+y
    No reason other than FG percentage.

    .

    .

    .

    .


    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by McKeyFan View Post
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    No reason other than FG percentage.

    ****cough****Tinsley***cough***

    We need his defense. There are times when we need to slow it down. JO can be utilized then as well as in the running game.
    I strongly agree. Getting JO back and playing somewhere in the ballpark of his best, without expectations of his game from 4-5 years ago returning, will make the team even better. Maybe they are a .500-.520 team now and he makes them a .550 team. He allows the defense to spread out and defend away from the paint more, he cleans up problems created on the outside by Tins or Dun or Troy. And oh by the way, he draws doubles for a reason and that means defensive motion and holes to cut through for easy scores, or open jumpers on the weakside.

    "O'Neal isn't concerning himself with the future, except to deliver a message to critics who insist his career is declining.
    "I'm not going to be broken down," he said. "Do I believe I'm going to return to my form? Absolutely. I truly believe I'm going to return to my level.""

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    This illustrates how sadly delusional JO is. I don't think he gets it. His PERSONAL "level" is not important. It's not about HIM. Its about the team and how many games they win. If he returns and averages 6 points and 3 rebounds, but the team wins every game, then this would bea GREAT success.

    If he returns and averages 20 and 10, and the team loses 2/3 of their games, then this is a great FAILURE. But I don't think JO would see it that way.



    Because Duncan would be happy playing poorly and unable to contribute to the TEAM in the manner he currently does. Because Reggie caught in a 10 game slump of 25% from 3 wouldn't say "I think I can get back to my level, it's just a slump".

    Holy freaking insane bias, when in the hell did it become a bad thing for a player to want to be at his top level. How does that hurt the team??? He didn't say "gets mine" or "put up my numbers" or "get me my touches fools". He said he wants to be at his level.

    By the way, so do the Pacers, his teammates, JOB and any decent, rational Pacer fans. You'd trade JO for Bynum or Duncan or whatever...why? To get a guy that can play "at that level".
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 11-30-2007 at 03:20 PM.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    Getting JO back and playing somewhere in the ballpark of his best, without expectations of his game from 4-5 years ago returning, will make the team even better. Maybe they are a .500-.520 team now and he makes them a .550 team.
    Now wait a minute. You're telling me, we're paying JO a huge salary, bestowing upon him the cloak that has "The Man" and "The Franchise" stitched on it, and making him the face of this team, all for 4 wins?

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    ****cough****Tinsley***cough***
    I strongly agree. Getting JO back and playing somewhere in the ballpark of his best, without expectations of his game from 4-5 years ago returning, will make the team even better. Maybe they are a .500-.520 team now and he makes them a .550 team. He allows the defense to spread out and defend away from the paint more, he cleans up problems created on the outside by Tins or Dun or Troy. And oh by the way, he draws doubles for a reason and that means defensive motion and holes to cut through for easy scores, or open jumpers on the weakside.
    Seth....although his defense would be much needed......assuming that he is healthy....should we run the offense through him as the #1 scoring option as JO'B suggests if he continues to take low-percentage jumpshots ( as opposed to high-percentage "close to the basket" shots)?

    Specifically...how do you envision using him in the offense?

    Like many here on PD...I am of the belief that if JONeal focuses more on rebounding, defending and he can be an efficient scoring option on the floor ( as in taking high-percentage shots that he can make in the low-post rather then the low-percentage mid-range jumpers that he can miss ) that he would be able to fit into the offense/defense.

    IMHO...that is basically what Foster and Harrison have been doing and how the offense has been running......our Big Men on the floor ( outside of Murphy ) rebound and control the paint and have only been taking shots that can easily hit......otherwise they defer the offense and the scoring comes from the Guard/SF positions.

    That's one of the reasons why I think that JO'B thinks that there should be no difference if we take out Foster / Harrison and insert JONeal. Assuming that JONeal is healthy, he can do everything that Foster and Harrison can do. The only question is whether he can be efficient on the offensive end when he gets the ball.
    Last edited by CableKC; 11-30-2007 at 08:04 PM.
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    Specifically...how do you envision using him in the offense?
    I'm nowhere near as smart as Seth, but I'd like to see Jermaine with a 3-second rule of his own. He's always been at his best when he makes quick moves. He's got good vision and makes good quick reads, so I'd love to see a situation where he's allowed to post up if he can shoot within 3 seconds.

    EDIT: And Jermaine just did exactly that... got the ball and made the quick spin instead of waiting for the D to set.

    EDIT 2: Three straight makes from Jermaine, all on quick moves. He got the ball and made his move within 3 seconds.
    Last edited by Anthem; 12-01-2007 at 12:23 AM.
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by bellisimo View Post
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    I agree - he should take as much time as needed ala Shaq to recover from whatever it is that is bogging him down. All this forcing to play is not helping anyone get into any groove.

    There is no reason why JO could not get 20 10 within the system...

    surely he can also get it outside the system...but if Ike could avg. 14pts a game from the bench before injury - no reason why JO could not avg 20+ ...as long as he is healthy
    Also, Ike actually plays in the post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    Also, Ike actually plays in the post.
    Except that he can't pass.
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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Roy Munson-

    It's not just J.O. There aren't many upper tier, NBA guys who
    'see it that way'. It's a game where the league has promoted
    individual stars and their duels over teams and their rivalries.
    Not 'seeing it that way' is the unsurprising result.

    That said, it's still pretty FANtastic !

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Rajah Brown View Post
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    Roy Munson-

    It's not just J.O. There aren't many upper tier, NBA guys who
    'see it that way'. It's a game where the league has promoted
    individual stars and their duels over teams and their rivalries.
    Not 'seeing it that way' is the unsurprising result.

    That said, it's still pretty FANtastic !
    I agree. I kind of see JO as a victim of all the adulation he received during the peak of his career.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Rajah Brown View Post
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    Roy Munson-

    It's not just J.O. There aren't many upper tier, NBA guys who
    'see it that way'.
    Duncan

    Kidd

    Shaq

    Wade

    Garnett

    LeBron

    Ginobli

    Nash

    Billups

    Prince

    Deron Williams

    Chris Bosh


    Anyway, I can think of a lot of players that, it seems to me, put team first.

    And they seem, generally, to have something in common. Winning records.

    .

    .

    .

    .


    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    We need his defense. There are times when we need to slow it down. JO can be utilized then as well as in the running game.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    I just wish he would get it. Is he not seeing what will make this team successful? We just need him to fit in with whats been working. We don't need him to be a star. If he comes back and we skid again, then what? Are we going to continue to ignore the numbers or are we going to do something about it?

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    (They are 84-81 with him in the past three-plus seasons, 44-44 without.)
    Now there's a stat.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal View Post
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    Now there's a stat.
    Don't forget that this is after last season when the team only went 3-10 without him.

    So before that we actually had a winning record without him and a losing record with him.

    This also includes the brawl year when we took that long losing streak.


    Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal View Post
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    Now there's a stat.

    That is the only +/- that matters to me.

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    Default Re: His best in Past? Mike Wells Indy Star

    I hope JO is right. If he truly returns to old form, he should be able to run in this system. If I were him, I'd look at dropping a little weight if possible, though. Hell, as long as he can run the floor efficiently, he should be a lot better than Murphy most nights.

    In the meantime, he needs to sit out for as long as needed and not try to rush back. It does neither the team nor himself any good if he comes back again at less than 100%.

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