June 25, 2008
After a stalemate, when it looked as if the medical issues surrounding both Jermaine O'Neal and T.J. Ford would prevent a trade between Indiana and Toronto, it appears both teams have decided to go ahead with the move that would also send the 17th pick in Thursday's Draft to Indiana, along with Rasho Nesterovic.
Adrian Wojnarowski is also reporting that Toronto will be throwing a "role player" in the deal, though we're not sure who at this point. Will Maceo Baston (at just under two million next year) be returning to the Hoosier state? Indiana already has a stable of small forwards, but there's not many players on the Raptors that the team could throw in and keep this deal cap-legal.
Either way, this is a good and needed deal for both teams. Even at 60 games a year, O'Neal is a needed defender and finisher on the break or in Toronto's preferred slow-down set. He can run a screen and roll and the two bookends of Jermaine and Chris Bosh will be a tough cover on either end. Non-NBA pundits have blanched at the amount of money the injury-prone O'Neal will make over the next few years, but they never seem to remember that Toronto is sending out just as much salary to take in O'Neal's big contract.
On Indiana's side, they'll get a 25 year-old point man who can play, Rasho's expiring contract will help to alleviate some salary cap and luxury tax constraints, and it's possible that Nesterovic's contract could be used as a sweetener to pair in a trade with any number of Pacers that have fallen out of favor with the Indiana GM Larry Bird. Players that have fallen out of favor way too late, I might add.
I like the deal, I liked it a few days ago and was disappointed when it fell apart. As long as Toronto finds another reserve big man to sop up minutes behind Bosh and O'Neal, this should be a win-win for both sides.