February 08, 2008
New York, New York
Posted by Mike Wells
You knew the question was going to come up.
It was inevitable.
New York. Jermaine O'Neal. Isiah Thomas.
Need I say more?
You would think something was wrong if O'Neal wasn't asked about Thomas and the Knicks.
And of course, O'Neal answered the questions after Wednesday's game at Madison Square Garden. That's his nature. You'll never hear anybody say the Pacers forward isn't media friendly.
Alan Hahn, the Knicks beat writer for Newsday, sent me the transcript of what O'Neal said.
I went online and read the New York Daily News on Friday morning.
Here's the first paragraph of the story: While most of the Knicks act and talk like they want nothing to do with Isiah Thomas, Pacers forward/center Jermaine O'Neal has made it clear that he would gladly accept a trade to New York.
I found that pretty interesting because I didn't recall seeing that in the transcript. Mark Montieth, who covered the game in New York, also said he didn稚 hear O誰eal say that.
So I went back to what Hahn sent me.
O'Neal was asked if he wanted a fresh start somewhere else you desire or would you accept.
Here's O'Neal's response to the question:
"In this business you gotta be willing to believe that at some point when your team's struggling you're going to be traded. I would accept it. I would accept it. I would accept being in Indiana. I知 going to accept whatever the business brings to me, but I'm going to handle what I can handle and that's my body."
O'Neal didn't single out any team. It's no secret that O誰eal has high respect for Thomas and the Knicks are one of the teams he wouldn't be upset about getting traded to. He痴 said in the past that Thomas is a father figure to him. Thomas told New York reporters Thursday, "Jermaine's one of my favorite people on Earth."
Conrad Brunner from Pacers.com and I asked O'Neal about the story after practice Friday. He gave me a puzzled look when I mentioned the story to him.
"I never said I wanted to play for the Knicks," O'Neal said.
I went back to the transcript, again.
O'Neal was asked would the Knicks be a good fit for him.
"I don't ever like to talk about me fitting into another situation while I知 here," he told the reporters at the Garden. "My obligation is to the Indiana Pacers right now and any situation that's going to present itself when it's time, I'll be willing to address it then."
The Daily News writer must have realized the same thing because he later wrote, "O'Neal didn't want to directly address coming to New York out of respect for the Pacers, but said Madison Square Garden was "one of the most desired atmospheres to play in basketball."
O'Neal's name will to continue to come up in trade rumors, but I can't imagine a team trying to acquire him until he's healthy. Remember, he's battled numerous injuries the past few seasons, which has caused his scoring average and elite status in the league to drop. He'll make $44 million in the final two years of his contract. He can opt out of those final two years this summer, but that's unlikely considering his injury situation.