Monday, August 6, 2007
Jermaine O'Neal Wants To Go To The West? What?
After months and months (years?) of trade rumors and watching his once Finals contending Indiana Pacers squad reduced to a lottery team that starts Mike Dunleavy, Jermaine O'Neal has finally come out and said that he wants to be traded to the Lakers.
"It's time for me to move on," O'Neal said Sunday at Baron Davis' and Paul Pierce's annual L.A. Stars charity basketball game at USC's Galen Center. "And the Lakers are the team I want Indiana to trade me to."
Since when did NBA players start coming out and publicly stating their true feelings? I'm appalled.
Of course, O'Neal says that New Jersey is his second option (should be his first) and a possibility.
This is very big news (not KG big news, but big news) in the sense that:
1. The city of Los Angeles needs some good sports news, with Brand possibly out for the year and Kobe not backing off his trade request. They need it.
2. Any positive news is good for the NBA, with the huge ref scandal overshadowing the sport.
3. O'Neal + Kobe would be the move (or really close) that would elevate the Lakers from first round doorstep status.
My only question with J.O's desire to venture off to Hollywood is: Why?
Sure, him going to the Lakers makes them a better team in the Western Conference. But, him pairing with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Jamaal Magloire (the Nets would most likely have to give up Richard Jefferson in the deal) would immediately vault Jersey back to the top of the conference. Past Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. And past the three-headed juggernaut that is Boston.
Think about it: would you rather have Garnett, Pierce, and Allen with absolutely nothing else or Kidd, O'Neal, Vince with a tough veteran big man and young talent off the bench at a number of positions? Of course it's Jersey, right?
Or would you rather go to L.A. where you would have to battle Duncan, Boozer, Yao, Amare, Dirk, Gasol, and Oden on a team that:
1. Runs a triangle offense that is based around a shooting guard
2. That shooting guard is Kobe Bryant
3. Will most likely start Derek Fisher at the point
4. Features more young, inexperienced players than Indiana currently does
5. Still doesn't know for sure if this is the move that would appease Kobe into wanting to stay with the team. (Don't forget that he can opt out in 2009 and he has said that nothing would make him want to stay in purple-and-gold.)
Is that really better than going to New Jersey where:
1. You're in the East, dammit
2. Jason Kidd is still the best point guard on the planet
3. Vince Carter will be in his rightful place as second option on a contender
4. You will undoubtedly be the first option
5. You won't have to play a whole lot of minutes until the playoffs
6. You are instantly favorites to get to the Finals
Sounds a lot better basketball-wise, doesn't it?
Don't get me wrong, Los Angeles looks so beautiful on the outside looking in. Bright lights, a bunch of TV appearances, gorgeous weather (it is to be noted that O'Neal makes him home in Southern California during the summer), Hollywood stars courtside, and a chance to play with the best player in the world every night.
But consider the fact that the best player in the world couldn't get along with arguably the most dominant big man EVER - and they were winning championships. He publicly bitched about Shaq being overweight and constantly hurt. How quickly do you think he'll flip out when J.O.'s shoulder starts acting up? Or his fragile body starts to break down, which seems to be an annual event these days. Where does he fit in the triangle offense that is no longer built around the premise of getting the ball to the big man and moving around him?
In New Jersey, the uptempo Nets would have the added option of a inside post presence (on offense and defense) that they have sorely needed since Kidd arrived in 2001. Vinsanity would be more comfortable not being the go-to guy every night, and J. Kidd would have a more viable target for all those assists he would rack up. Plus, with Jamaal Magloire would help man the boards and the bench (Marcus Williams, Sean Williams, Antoine Wright, Josh Boone, Nenad Krstic, Jason Collins, Bostjan Nachbar) would provide much needed rest for the three stars. Barring injury, is that not a Finals caliber squad in the East? Would they not be able to compete with a lot of West teams? Would you not like your chances with Kidd/O'Neal/Vince against any big three in the league? Thought so.
J.O. take this advance: if you're going for the glitz and glamour, go ahead and force a trade to the Kobettes. But you want to win a ring now, go to Sopranoland.
All that glitters ain't gold and there's no glitter on that championship trophy.