NBA Trade Rumor: Raptors and Pacers Discuss TJ Ford/Jermaine O'Neal Trade

Micah SecorCorrespondent IJune 23, 2008

Trade talks between the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers have surfaced pertaining a deal that involves much-maligned Raptor point guard TJ Ford for injury-riddled Jermaine O'Neal.

The cumulative deal would send Ford, center Rasho Nestorovic, and the Raptors first round pick to Indiana for O'Neal.

The Raptors are reluctant to pull the trigger due to two concerns. O'Neal is owed a whopping $44 million in the next two years and that would essentially cripple the Raptors cap space.

Also, committing to O'Neal for the next two years is risky as well given his recent injuries.

In his last four seasons with the Pacers, 29-year-old O'Neal has only averaged 51 games a season.

He is coming off of a left knee injury that limited his production last year as he posted only 13 points a game and Indiana missed the playoffs by one game.

But despite these risks, the Raptors will most likely give the green light.

Combining Chris Bosh and O'Neal would strengthen the front-court along with budding youngster Andrea Bargnani, which makes the Raptors instant contenders for the Eastern Conference.

For the Pacers, the lightning-quick Ford is only 25 and would fill the team's need for a PG.

It is possible that the Pacers may hold onto O'Neal and draft PG DJ Augustin with the 11th pick in the NBA Draft to supplant Jamaal Tinsley and Travis Diener, making a deal for Ford unnecessary.

Or they could deal O'Neal and draft a big man such as Kosta Koufos to fill O'Neal's void.

Either way, I believe that if the Raptors can get this deal done, they can go head-to-head with anyone in the East.

Having a star-caliber player such as O'Neal will give franchise player Chris Bosh some breathing space from the double teams.

Only time will tell if the Raptors can corral O'Neal and begin their ascent in the East.