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Yahoo! Sports: SALT LAKE CITY — As Jermaine O’Neal tries to conduct some public damage control about his understood desire to leave the Indiana Pacers, his old teammate, Golden State’s Stephen Jackson, says he knows how badly O’Neal wants a trade from Indy.
“I don’t think he has any patience (left), but Jermaine is the ultimate professional,” Jackson told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “But he wants to get out of there because all of the guys they brought in to build the team around him are gone now. Me, Ron (Artest) and Al (Harrington). I’ve heard rumors that (Jamaal) Tinsley wants to leave, too.
“I just hope J.O. gets put in the best situation because he is a great player.”
O’Neal, 28, is playing semantics with his trade request to Pacers executives. Request? Demand? Whatever he wants to call it, it’s been made clear to Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird that the 6-foot-11 All-Star would rather leave than stay. At the top of his list of destinations are the Los Angeles Lakers to join Kobe Bryant and the New York Knicks to be reunited with Isiah Thomas.
“I talked to him a while back, and he was saying that if he did get traded he would want to go to those two teams,” Jackson said. “Isiah and Jermaine are good friends. If it does happen, look out East. Him and (Eddy) Curry in the paint are going to be a monster. But him and Kobe will be a monster, too.”
With as much success as the eight-player mid-season trade involving Jackson and Harrington has brought Golden State, there is only more pressure on Walsh and Bird to get maximum value for O’Neal.
After finishing 35-47 and missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Pacers appear to be in full rebuilding mode. O’Neal wants no part of starting over with the franchise.
“It’s going to have to be the perfect deal (to get O’Neal out), because you know from the deal they made with us (landing Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy) it didn’t work out for them,” Jackson said. “They don’t want to make a bad deal again. I think it would have to be a perfect deal.
“Hopefully it works for him because you play so much better when you’re somewhere you want to be, in a place where you are wanted. That’s why I’m having so much success here, because they’ve embraced me like a newborn.”