Rolling the dice on an oft-injured player

The sort of quotes which make a keen NBA Observer scratch his head and say, “Hmmmmmmm.”

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Star dimming, O’Neal sees brighter days in Toronto

1. re: Jermaine O’Neal’s physical condition

O’Neal admits as much, directing most of the blame at his left knee. He had surgery to repair a cartilage tear the summer before last season, and was on the floor for opening night. By mid-January, however, O’Neal felt like he was playing on one leg. Tired of crunching Advil – “12 a day,” he claims – he sought the advice of a couple specialists and shut down for the next 2½ months. He returned for the final two weeks, and the Pacers finished one win shy of claiming the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.

Because neither O’Neal nor the Pacers wanted to further diminish his trade value, “we didn’t really want to speak much about my injuries,” he said. “Whenever it got to the point where I had to sit out, we just had to call it something else. But over the last 2½ years, that knee was the issue.”

i.e. O’Neal had surgery on his injured left knee 2 summers ago, not this past season or during this current off-season.

2. Jermaine O’Neal’s mind-set

There were other issues, not all of them external.

“Mentally, I was just worn out,” he said. “When you get to that point, you just kind of lose that fire.”

3. re: probability & what to worry about

“Bryan Colangelo isn’t dumb; he didn’t trade for an injured player,” said one Eastern Conference scout. “Jermaine will probably dedicate himself this season. He quit on Indiana. I guess if there’s anything to worry about, it’s that he could always do the same in Toronto.”

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Based on the following observations:

* Jermaine O’Neal is not coming back from an injury he sustained this past season
* Once a NBA player ‘loses his fire’, rarely does he ever get it back
* Jermaine O’Neal is perceived to have ‘quit’ on the Indiana Pacers

it is simply not a given that the Raptors are actually going to get their money’s worth this season, and next, from the trade which brought them Jermaine O’Neal and cost them TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston & the No. 17 Selection [overall] from the 2008 NBA Draft, which the Pacers used to choose Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown], in exchange for the #41 Pick, Nathan Jawai [C/PF, Australia] who is still inactive at this point with a suspected heart condition.

[Note 1: O’Neal missed his first ‘in-game’ action with the Raptors this season, on Tuesday, sitting out the 2nd Half of their exhibition loss vs the Nuggets, due to a ‘sore right leg’.]

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10 Responses to “Rolling the dice on an oft-injured player”

  1. Dan H Says:

    * Jermaine O’Neal is not coming back from an injury he sustained this past season

    – We knew this when the trade was made. He came back after the cleanup surgery at the start of the season although his doctors told him not to. The knee swelled up, he saw specialists and they decided the best course of action, TO BE HEALTHY THIS SEASON, was to shut it down for the rest of the year.

    * Once a NBA player ‘loses his fire’, rarely does he ever get it back

    – An example please. This is more curiosity than a rebuttal.

    * Jermaine O’Neal is perceived to have ‘quit’ on the Indiana Pacers

    – It seems to me that if ever the Raptors are in a situation such as the one in which JO felt the need to ‘quit’, they will have bigger problems than JO.

  2. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    While you, personally, may well have known this to be the case concerning JO’s summer 2008 workout program, there are others in the Raptors basketball community who think that THE reason he has looked sluggish, at differnt times during the pre-season is because he has been actively ‘rehabilitating’ from an injury [and then resulting surgery] he sustained during the last 12 months.

    Q1. How do I know that this is a perception which is held by others?
    A1. Because I have had looks of disbelief thrown my way when explaining these facts to others this fall.

    i.e. “You mean JO didn’t have a 2nd round of surgery this summer? No, he did … I’m almost sure he did; that’s why he was rehabing in Vegas with that physical trainer guy. Right?”

    ————————————————

    It’s always difficult to tell when the description of a player ‘losing his fire’ for the game is the real reason behind his demise, or whether it’s something else, e.g. Latrell Sprewell.

    More frequent is the ‘loss of fire’ which can occur when a player, who was once considered to be very good at what he does, is forced to cope with a series of debilitating injuries, over a period of years, that limit his athleticism and gradually lower his skill level, in effect, taking him out of the game prematurely given his relatively young age.

    An example … maybe, someone like Larry Johnson, or Allan Houston. or Jonathon Bender.

  3. fluxland Says:

    Maybe JO needs to purchase the new Starbury workout video: “Mind, Body, Soul – Rebuilding of a Superstar”. I hear it’s being call the fountain of youth. 🙂

  4. Raps Fan Says:

    i hope he could cope and adapt like mcdyess did, that would be huge for the raptors. he seems like he has his head on straight, no reason to think otherwise at this point.

  5. fluxland Says:

    Raps Fan,

    In all fairness, Dice was coming off the bench for 3 years and started last year. And he’s averaged under 10 per and like 7ish rebounds during that time span.

    I think people in general have much higher hopes/expectations from JO to make us “legit”, no?

    I see what you are saying, tho. Yet, I think he’s playing the PR game better then THE game. Time will tell, I suppose. I’m personally buying little of that stock.

  6. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    These are the words which would raise a Red Flag with me:

    ——————————————————–

    “A lot of people have sort of written him off and everything, but he’s ready to play,” said Raptors forward Chris Bosh, O’Neal’s new frontcourt partner. “He’s back to his old self.”

    Pacers officials will probably roll their eyes at that. O’Neal always talked a good game with them, but he had long since stopped playing one. Pacers president Larry Bird, ever the gamer during his Hall of Fame career, didn’t mention O’Neal by name when he told The Indianapolis Star last month that the franchise has lacked leadership since Reggie Miller retired, but it was clear to whom he was referring.

    “Just because you make the most money doesn’t mean you’re the leader,” Bird said. “…The leader comes from the guy doing the right thing, the guy that’s going to be there every day at practice, the guy that plays through pain without complaining.”

    O’Neal, for reasons valid or not, hardly qualified on that front. He sat out at least 30 games in three of his last four seasons in Indiana, an attendance rate that fell far short of justifying his $20 million-plus salary. O’Neal almost always had a smile ready for the cameras. He did good work in the Indianapolis community. But far too often, the Pacers took the court with his jersey still hanging in the locker room.

    O’Neal admits as much, directing most of the blame at his left knee. He had surgery to repair a cartilage tear the summer before last season, and was on the floor for opening night. By mid-January, however, O’Neal felt like he was playing on one leg. Tired of crunching Advil – “12 a day,” he claims – he sought the advice of a couple specialists and shut down for the next 2½ months. He returned for the final two weeks, and the Pacers finished one win shy of claiming the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.

    ——————————————————–

    When McDyess ripped his knee apart in consecutive years, and then returned from his surgeries and rehab to play again … mind you, in a very different way than he was able to before the serious injuries he suffered … there was never any speculation that he might have ‘lost his fire’ in the process and was mailing it in.

    Dice was forced to learn how to play the game in a different way because of his injuries. Doesn’t seem as though this is JO’s situation just yet … which calls into question his motivation for playing the game a certain way, or not, based upon his frame of mind.

    ——————————————————-

    It isn’t right now that JO’s injuries are likely to re-occur but later in the season once the mileage begins to build up on his tires.

  7. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    As well, Dice is not raking in $21 mil/yr from the Pistons.

    One of the things I didn’t like from the Ford/O’Neal trade was the possibility of the Raptors now having to pay $21 mil/yr for a similar production level as what Rasho could have given them for a lot less $$$ over a greater number of games.

    Rasho isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination but for the money he was earning the Raptors could have done a lot worse, e.g. see Jerome James.

  8. fluxland Says:

    Oh, please don’t remind me. : )

    That trade has never and will never make sense. Barring a chip banner at the ACC, I suppose.

    You nailed it.. the difference between JO and Dice is the hunger to win it all. JO came to TO because, IMO, it was the only team (sucker) willing to take on that contract. He had not reason to say no. You would think a player in his position and point in career would want to play for a contender. I don’t know how he looked at that roster and said that was it. Unless, of course, he over estimated his own skills or is delusional. I am, also, not reading anywhere about how teams were knocking on his door and demanding his services.

    And BC got what he wanted as well, a (former) big time name to sell jerseys and bring koolaid drinkers into the seats.

    Rasho was a bargain. Frustrating at times because he seemed unable to jump higher then 2 inches or because he would tip rebounds instead of grab them, but still a hard non complaining worker and IMV able to get key rebounds.

    Jerome James…yikes.

  9. Johnn19 Says:

    As they say “the proof is in the pudding” ,endless speculation means nothing, we must wait and see. Rasho was a great guy but he could not take the double and triple teams off Bosh, the hope is that O’Neal will.

  10. khandor Says:

    Johnn19,

    FYI …

    The correct version of that specific saying goes like this:

    “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”Anonymous

    The version you just gave, on the other hand … although quoted often … is incorrect.

    ———————————————–

    Just because you might think that ‘speculation’ is a waste of time … doesn’t make it so.

    Billions of dollars change hands every single day in this world based on nothing more than “speculation”.

    There’s a difference, however, between someone who ‘speculates’, for example, in the stock market wisely … ala Warren Buffet … and someone who does not.

    One of the keys in life is being able to tell the difference between a speculation that is going to turn out to be Right in the end and one that is going to turn out to be Wrong.

    And, in order to be successful, in the end, you need to be able to make this distinction in advance not after-the-fact.

    ———————————————–

    Who said it was necessary to take the double and triple teams off Bosh?

    Not me … that’s for darn sure. 😉

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