I have posted these thoughts before, so I will keep it short and sweet. But after reading Kravitz column, I decided to start a thread on this topic.
Trading JO this off season would probably be the worst move the Pacers have ever made. Jo's trade value has never and will never be lower than this summer. He has two years left on his deal, so starting around the trade deadline (next February)his trade value increases slightly, and then next summer it increases by the day, and continues to increase each day during the following regular season. (and of course there is always the long shot that perhaps JO can stay a little healthier next season and that will also increase his trade value) The fact of the matter is that JO's trade value will never be any lower than it is right now.
So of course Kravitz wants the Pacers to trade JO now, and he'll be the first one to criticize the Pacers when a bad deal is made.
Sure, I think it would be best for the franchise if JO is playing somewhere else next season - but I truly believe in this situation, waiting to trade him in a year or two will help the Pacers franchise in the long run. In fact trading JO at the right time will likely be a more important decision than any draft pick the Pacers take over the next two years.
Here is Bob's column
No. 1 priority for Bird: Deal Tinsley and O'Neal
It's great that Herb Simon has chosen to transform himself from a hands-off owner to a hands-on kind of guy. And it's great that Simon hired Jim Morris, the noted businessman and philanthropist, to run the company's off-the-court operation. If Morris can survive Darfur, he can survive the Indiana Pacers.
But all of the front-office shuffling will be rendered meaningless if the guy running the basketball operation, Larry Bird, doesn't accomplish two things this summer:
He must get rid of Jamaal Tinsley. Trade, buyout, set him adrift on an Arctic ice floe. Whatever.
He must trade Jermaine O'Neal.
If those two players are still here when we meet again in October, the Pacers will have made no progress toward rebuilding this team, and the leash on Bird will become dramatically shorter.
Tinsley's act grew stale about four years ago. It doesn't matter how his various off-court issues have been resolved by the courts. The perception of him is never going to change, not here.
And to think, one pick after Tinsley was chosen 27th in the 2001 draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected a point guard named Tony Parker.
What's French for "Ouch!''?
With O'Neal, it's not a personality or perception issue; it's his salary. When he was given the maximum contract in 2003, most of us applauded that deal, viewing O'Neal as the team's new centerpiece and Reggie Miller's heir apparent.
Now, though, he's a $40 million albatross who, if he stays in Indiana, destroys any Pacers hopes for future cap flexibility.
Can a brother make a suggestion? How about sending O'Neal to the Knicks for Stephon Marbury. Yes, Marbury is a waste, but he has only one year left on his deal. If the Pacers are willing to bite the bullet for one season, more than $20 million will come off the books in 2009-10.
During a Wednesday afternoon news conference to announce the team's front-office changes, Bird fell short of saying he would trade O'Neal, but he made it abundantly clear that he's going to try. And that would be best for both of them. Face it: O'Neal doesn't fit with coach Jim O'Brien's style, and both parties know it. Add to that the fact that O'Neal and Bird have had a contentious relationship since Bird fired Isiah Thomas, and you have a bad marriage that's headed for a divorce.
O'Neal didn't want to talk about his future or whether Wednesday's game might be his last as a Pacer.
When a deal gets done, it's not important whether Bird gets full or even partial value for O'Neal, whose injury problems make him a tough sell. What Bird and this franchise need is cap flexibility. They need to take on an expiring contract or two, giving them freedom to make some moves in the next few years.
This franchise has got to accept the fact that getting better might mean getting worse, a lot worse, first.
"I think at the small forward and two guard, we're pretty well set with Danny (Granger), Shawne (Williams) and Mike (Dunleavy),'' Bird said. "Any time you go into the draft, you look for point guards and you look for big guys. It's according to what's going to be there. If there's a point guard we really like, we have to look at him. But if there's a big man there, you always like the bigs.
"At the four position we could use another guy. We've got a lot of holes to fill.''
Does that sound like O'Neal is in Bird's plans?
"I'm sure he (O'Neal) will look at all his options, and we'll look at ours,'' Bird said. "Throughout the summer, we'll probably be talking to some teams and seeing what kind of interest they have in him. He hasn't told us if he wants to stay here or if he wants to go somewhere else, but there comes a time in any player's basketball career that you want to try to do what's best for yourself and for your team.''
Good guy, good representative of this franchise. But it's time. It's just time.
Time, finally, to rebuild.
There will be exit interviews today between Bird and the players, and you would think, and hope, it will mark the last time several enter the Fieldhouse as members of the home team.
Tinsley is gone. Marquis Daniels is on the chopping block. David Harrison is history. Kareem Rush was relegated to the bench the last few weeks. Shawne Williams? You wonder. He's still young, cheap and talented, but . . . And O'Neal has almost certainly played his final game as a Pacer.
The franchise made some strong and necessary front-office moves Wednesday afternoon. Simon needed to get more involved in this business. Morris, who told WFNI-1070, "We will not have bums here,'' seems to have the right idea. But ultimately it's about winning, and second, it's about winning with palatable players.
That leaves it up to Bird.
If Tinsley and/or O'Neal are still here in October, the clock on Larry Legend's reign starts ticking.