IndyStar.com: Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal has discounted Internet reports that he wants to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“My preference is to play here and win here,” O’Neal said in a telephone interview after returning from Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, attempting to deflate a brewing controversy that had brought clarifying statements from Pacers president Larry Bird and O’Neal’s agent, Arn Tellem.
O’Neal appeared at — but did not play in — a charity basketball game Sunday hosted by NBA stars Baron Davis and Paul Pierce. There he talked with reporters from Web sites for Sports Illustrated and ESPN.
Both accounts quoted him expressing a desire to be traded to the Lakers.
“It’s time for me to move on,” O’Neal was quoted in the ESPN story. “And the Lakers are the team I want Indiana to trade me to.”
O’Neal added the Pacers are “obviously” in a rebuilding mode, and he did not want to “take in five years of losses and downtime.” He added he also would favor a trade to New Jersey.
Bird has had trade discussions with both teams regarding O’Neal this summer. A draft day conversation with the Nets was brief, however, and he has not talked with the Lakers since early July.