Pacers' O'Neal willing to sit out season to rehab knee
By Mike Wells
Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal told The Indianapolis Star on Sunday that he is willing to sit out the rest of the season, if necessary, to take care of his ongoing left knee problem.
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."
Team president Larry Bird could not be reached for comment Sunday.
O'Neal, who has missed eight games this season, said he knew something had to be done after playing just nine minutes, all the in the first quarter, against the Golden State Warriors last week.
"I'm not giving the team a shot," he said. "I would rather them give the guys a shot with the group that's going to be there every single day."
The Pacers issued a statement Saturday saying that O'Neal would miss at least two weeks after an MRI revealed a bone bruise on his knee. Coach Jim O'Brien said before Saturday's game against Sacramento that O'Neal will not get back to the point where he can play and practice on a regular basis this season.
O'Neal, who will continue to travel with the team, said he plans to meet soon with two specialists -- one in New York and one in Los Angeles.
"What's more important right now is doing the things necessary to get back healthy and also not have to get my whole damn knee replaced in 10 years," O'Neal said.