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Article:O'Neal trade is risky, but worth the risk

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Today, the Indiana Pacers confirmed rumors and traded Jermaine O'Neal to the Toronto Raptors for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, the 17th pick of the draft, and a player to be named later.

There are lots of reasons not to make this trade: O'Neal is owed over $40 million the next two seasons and has had trouble even leaving the bench. He hasn't played in more than 70 games since the 03-04 season and missed 40 games last year. Even if he does come back and have a healthy year, it's doubtful that he'll return to his 24-point, 10-rebound self from 2005.

All that aside, the way you talk yourself into making this deal is simple if you're Toronto. First off, Ford and Nesterovic were completely dispensable. The Raptors already have a very solid point guard in Jose Calderon, and Nesterovic hardly played at all in the postseason. O'Neal is 30 years old and two years younger than Kevin Garnett, who just showed he still has a lot to give.

Before this trade, the Raptors were in no position to contend with the best teams in the East. In their last two trips to the playoffs, Toronto lost to Orlando and New Jersey, and let's face it, Orlando and New Jersey are miles away from Cleveland, Detroit, and Boston. This trade might not work out, but if Toronto hadn't made any move, there's no way they were going anywhere next year. Now if O'Neal can actually stay healthy, their front line will consist of Bargnani, Chris Bosh, and Jermaine O'Neal. In a conference where the 45-loss Hawks can make the playoffs, that might be good enough to get to the second round.

(, this day in sports history)

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