Jermaine O'Neal welcomed a trade from Indiana in an effort to rejuvenate his stalled career.
Instead, O'Neal is again the focus of trade rumors as the Toronto Raptors, expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, continue their march toward the league's most disappointing team award.
"I don't worry about that (trade) stuff," O'Neal said. "At the end of the day, I know what I can do and I will continue to prove it. If it doesn't work out (in Toronto), then it doesn't work out."
O'Neal and a second-round pick of the 2008 draft were traded to Toronto for T. J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and Maceo Baston in July. The addition of the 6-foot-11, 260-pound O'Neal with all-star Chris Bosh was expected to produce a strong frontcourt, better rebounding and tougher interior defense. But O'Neal plays the same position as Bosh, the team's leading scorer and rebounder.
"I have to stand around a little bit and watch," O'Neal said. "It's been hard. I knew it would be a hard transition, but to what extent, I really didn't know. I'm not gonna lie. It's been one of the challenging things I've ever done in my life."
O'Neal, 30, looked forward to leaving Indiana after his last four seasons were filled with suspensions, injuries and criticism that started when he was suspended for 25 games after the infamous brawl in Detroit in 2005. He missed a total of 122 games during his final four seasons in Indiana.
"I don't like talking about other people's issues all the time," O'Neal said. "It became more of a burden than anything."
O'Neal is averaging 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, but showed that he's still capable of producing big numbers when he scored 36 points in the Raptors' 107-101 win at Sacramento on Friday. Regardless of whether he remains in Toronto or is traded in his 13th season, O'Neal said he plans to play another four years.