SB Nation has one of the best basketball bloggers covering the Pacers over at Indy Corn Rows. CornRows and I have talked time to time about how the Colts have eclipsed the Pacers as the city's team, a fact neither of us would have imaged 10 years ago. I used to love months April to June, because that was always Miller Time. Indiana always made the playoffs, and always fielded a great, entertaining team that the city was proud of.
But, since the Detroit Brawl and the moronic moves of Larry Bird, the Pacers have been a disaster since 2004. You can point to a myriad of reasons why the Pacers have regressed each and every year since 2004. Now, finally, Bird and the Pacers are turning the page and starting over. By trading Jermaine O'Neal to the Toronto Raptors for TJ Ford, the #17 pick in the draft, and two expiring contracts, the Pacers are closing a chapter on a dark period in their proud franchise. And I, for one, am excited for it.
Mind you, this is not a post intended to knock Jermaine O'Neal, a player I have always liked. O'Neal is a very good player paid as if he were a Hall of Famer. He cares for his team, his teammates, and he is a good person, but his contract is ridiculous. His fault with the Pacers was not his health, but rather he wasn't Reggie Miller, one of the 50 greatest players ever to wear an NBA uniform and a man able to carry a franchise on his back. O'Neal had big shoes to fill when Miller retired in 2004, and was unable to do so. It's unfortunate, but not a knock on him. Not all of us are all-timers.
O'Neal does have good game though, and he will fit in well in Toronto, or at least he should. Jermaine also deserves to contend one more time for a title. with the Raptors, he can do that. Meanwhile, the Pacers get Ford, a true point guard, some cap space for next year, and the #17 pick to go with their #11 pick. I still think they should take DJ Augustin at #11, and have both him and Ford running point. In today's NBA, you must have a skilled PG or someone who can handle the ball to generate offense.
All in all, this trade has me excited again for Pacers basketball. A team potentially fielding Danny Granger, TJ Ford, DJ Augustin, and an improved Mike Dunleavy might put pro basketball back on the map in Indy. Then, I might enjoy April-June once again.