Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune reports that Jermaine O’Neal has asked to be traded to the New York Knicks.
But sources say O’Neal already has told the Pacers he wants to be traded to the Knicks and former Pacers coach and close friend Isiah Thomas. Would the Pacers take Stephon Marbury or maybe a package with Steve Francis, Jared Jeffries and Channing Frye and the Bulls’ first-round pick, which the Knicks own in the swap?
While I’m not particularly familiar with Smith’s work, the article reads like the Peter Vecsey of the mid-West, especially with “sources say” line. But since it’s only the beginning of the second round of the playoffs, which means the draft is still far off and the next official Knick game even further, now is a good time to fantasize about such things.
First off, I’d like to say Jermaine O’Neal is exactly the kind of player the Knicks need. He’s a legitimate All Star, something the team hasn’t had since 2001. O’Neal would also give the Knicks a strong defensive presence in the middle, something they haven’t had since 2001. Although he’s had a lot of mileage, O’Neal will only be 29 next season, so he’s not likely to decline severely. In fact taller players tend to age better.
On the other hand, recently O’Neal has missed his fair share of games. Suspensions and injuries has limited him to an average of 55 games over the last 3 years. Additionally Indiana still has an NBA rivalry with New York, so it’s not likely that they’ll send O’Neal over gift wrapped. And lest we forget that the Pacers’ GM Larry Bird isn’t in Isiah Thomas’ 5. Finally do the Knicks have enough assets to trade for Jermaine? Or more importantly, can Isiah come up with a package for O’Neal without bankrupting the Knicks?
It’s still early in the rampant speculation season of the NBA. Between now and the draft nearly every quasi-available All Star will be rumored to be traded to one team or another. But for now it’s Jermaine O’Neal to the Knicks. Dream on, Knick fans.