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News » Indiana Pacers Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Indiana Pacers Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Indiana Pacers Getting Inside 2008-06-30
The Pacers' roster makeover began sooner than expected.

Team president Larry Bird wasted little time in moving disgruntled six-time All-Star Jermaine O'Neal.

O'Neal, who spent eight years with the Pacers, is on his way to Toronto, along with Indiana's second-round pick, center Nathan Jawai, in the draft, for point guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, forward Maceo Baston and the Raptors' first-round pick, Georgetown center Roy Hibbert.

The trade cannot be finalized until July 9, after the league's mandatory moratorium period ends and Ford's base-year compensation tag expires.

"So many things have happened in the entire organization, it became so super negative," O'Neal said. "It stopped (being) about basketball and really wore me down. It's hard to go from being on the cusp of winning a championship to coming down and not making the playoffs."

The more O'Neal got injured, the more it became obvious that it was time for the two parties to go in separate directions. O'Neal missed 40 games last season after surgery on his left knee in April 2007.

His paycheck has steadily improved each year -- O'Neal is one of the highest-paid players in the league -- but his value around the league has drastically fallen around the league.

"I played on one leg for two years, and if I'm able to do the same things I did on one leg, then they need to check me out this year," O'Neal said. "For the first time in three years, I'm healthy and I'm ready to roll.

"You have to expect criticism. It's the nature of the beast. It's motivation. That's what I took from it. I knew if it didn't work out for the Pacers, it would work out elsewhere."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy both thrived in coach Jim O'Brien's up-tempo offense. The two averaged career highs in points and were the focal point of an offense that relied on three-point shooting. Both players attempted at least 389 three-pointers, with Granger making 171 and Dunleavy making 165.

TURNING POINT: The Pacers lost at least three straight games seven times this season. They would have likely made the playoffs if they had half as many losing streaks. Lack of mental and physical toughness is the reason behind the constant losing streaks. They lost more than 10 games where they had leads of at least 10 points.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 30, 2008


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