The Pacers Sound Ready to Trade Jermaine O'Neal

You have probably already seen the news of Jermaine O'Neal's trade request.

I found Larry Bird's response, on the Pacers' official website, pretty surprising. Normally teams don't respond at all, or say something along the lines of "We look forward to having [player x] at training camp here in the fall."

That way the team can't lose. If the player comes back, he's the guy they wanted all along. If the player is traded, then hey, things happen, and no one cares that the executive once said they weren't so interested in trading the guy. Not to mention, it makes him seem valuable to the rest of the league to have the player's boss saying he's a guy they want.

But look at Larry Bird go!:

"In response to Jermaine O'Neal's published comments today regarding a trade, we have stated repeatedly that if we can make our team better through a trade, we will do so. Jermaine has become an All-Star player with the Indiana Pacers and in any discussions regarding him or any of our other players, the expectations for the franchise and our fans is to receive fair market value in return if a trade is to be considered.

"Jermaine has worked out very hard this summer while rehabilitating his knee after surgery. We believe under Jim O'Brien that our team as a whole and Jermaine as a player can be successful. You never know what will happen, but for now Jermaine is an Indiana Pacer."

My interpretation of that statement: "Heck yeah, we'll trade him!"

The biggest news of this whole thing might be O'Neal sharing the news (from the same article linked above) that Bryant has reportedly been trying to help get O'Neal to play with him in Los Angeles:

"Me and Kobe have talked a lot this summer about getting me here," O'Neal says. "We've been on each other since we were 15, playing AAU basketball, adidas All-American Camp, Nike All-American Camp. It's been a long relationship. We've been trying to make this happen all summer. He understands the desire that I have right now. Mentally, we're on the same page."

Either Kobe Bryant is not being straightforward with Jermaine O'Neal, O'Neal is not being straightforward with the media, or we kind of have our answer about Kobe Bryant's future in Los Angeles -- assuming the team can get O'Neal. This surely implies that getting O'Neal would be enough to guarantee that Bryant would be in a Laker uniform and working hard this fall.