Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you, (fill in deity here)! The Pacers made a good personnel move. This is the equivalent of a blind, one-legged man running a 4 minute mile. It's been so long that the Pacers did something right.
For some of you that are unaware, Jermaine O'Neal has been traded to the Toronto Raptors for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the 17th pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.
Brilliant move on Larry's part. Bloody brilliant. Jermaine hasn't contributed to this team since Artest left, and his contract is ridiculous. I've been calling for his trade ever since people called for my favorite basketball player of all-time (not named Harangody), Ronny Artest. I thought there was no way Bird was going to get a good deal for O'Neal. I was wrong.
TJ Ford has as much potential as any young point guard in this league. Before his neck injury, he was the Derrick Rose of the 2003 NBA Draft. I see a lot of similarities in him. TJ Ford is the best point guard the Pacers have had since Mark Jackson. I've been a big TJ Ford fan for a while. He came back from a broken neck. I doubt Tinsley would do that. Hell, he wouldn't come back from a broken fingernail (that he broke presumably pulling a trigger).
Rasho. Well, his 8 million dollar contract is up next year. Can you say RON ARTEST?
The 17th pick. That's venturing into a whole different territory. The draft.
The 11th pick. The Pacers have a few options. DJ Augustin, Kosta Koufus, Anthony Randolph, Mario Chalmers, and Brandon Rush are the best choices. Augustin and Chalmers are point guards and add some depth. Randolph and Koufus are big men with amazing potential. Rush would be reunited with his brother. However, after Bird said he will draft on whether a player can perform immediately, I'll count out Randolph and Koufus. I say the Pacers take DJ Augustin to be the future of the team.
At 17th, the Pacers have even more options. Koufus, Randolph, Chalmers, and Rush might still be there. Roy Hibbert, Darnell Arthur, Robin Lopez, and Jason Thompson will most likely be available. If all of them are left, this will be a tough choice but for good reasons. There isn't a prospect I consider to be a likely bust out of them. By what Bird has said, Arthur will be the choice.
In the second round, a wing would be the best choice. There is a local player who is pretty good. George Hill from Broad Ripple High School and IUPUI. He won't have a change of scenery in his life. Hill is as good as Russell Westbrook. As good. Hill is an athlete in every sense of the word. He does everything out there. This would be a steal.
After the Pacers sign Mike Green in free agency, and Shawne Williams and Jamaal Tinsley are gone, the roster will look like this:
PG: DJ Augustin/Travis Diener/Mike Green
SG: Danny Granger/George Hill/Kareem Rush
SF: Mike Dunleavy/Marquis Daniels
PF: Darnell Arthur/Ike Diogu
C: Troy Murphy/Jeff Foster
This is before all trades, mind you. Tinsley will be traded for a coupon to the Gap most likely, and Williams has been rumored to be involved with a Denver deal. No idea who it would involve.
One thing I know for sure: The Pacers will be playing in late April and May next season. Count on that.