Closing in on a Ford deal
Told you it was going to be a busy week of rumours and speculation and trade talk.
It’s all very tentative and quite up in the air but the Raptors have already investigated the possibility of a blockbuster trade that would net them a veteran – yet expensive – NBA centre.
According to league sources, Toronto has had talks with the Indiana Pacers about acquiring 29-year-old Jermaine O’Neal for a package that would include T.J. Ford, Rasho Nestervoic and, perhaps, the 17th pick in this week’s draft.
The talks are not the point where any deal is imminent and a deal is certainly not assured but the source said the Raptors are aggressively trying to move Ford and O’Neal is one of their targets.
Toronto also still has serious interest in forward Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns and is in talks with at least three other teams for trades of a similar magnitude.
O’Neal is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he played just 42 games and averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The 6-11 centre has been working out in Las Vegas since just after the 2007-08 season ended and according to reports has just begun full-court work.
Obtaining O’Neal will be a huge two-year financial commitment for the Raptors. He’s due to make about $21 million (all figures U.S.) this season and $23 million in 2009-10. To make the trade work under NBA salary cap rules, Toronto would have to add some other pieces in addition to Ford and Nesterovic but they have several less expensive expiring contracts that would make it work.
But even if the O’Neal trade doesn’t materialize, it does signal just how hard the Raptors are trying to move Ford so they can hand over the starting point guard job to restricted free agent Jose Calderon.
With Phoenix still in the mix and the other teams having talks with Toronto, it would appear Bryan Colangelo will have plenty of options to sift through before Thursday’s draft.