Basketball

Raptors strike tentative deal for Jermaine O'Neal: report

The Toronto Raptors reportedly agreed in principle Wednesday to a trade with the Indiana Pacers for six-time all-star Jermaine O'Neal.

Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has traded in his Ford for a Pacer.

Several media outlets report that Colangelo struck a tentative deal Wednesday with the Indiana Pacers, swapping T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, the 17th pick in Thursday's NBA draft and a player to be named for six-time all-star Jermaine O'Neal.

The transaction won't be finalized until O'Neal and Ford — two injury-prone players — pass physicals, and Ford's compensation tag comes off the books July 1.

Colangelo confirmed "four or five" teams talked to him about Ford, a flashy yet fragile point guard.

"We're talking about a player in T.J. that is an asset, a starting point guard in the NBA," Colangelo said. "There has been a lot of interest, and teams that have called and inquired have not put deals on the table that have been insulting in any regard.

"In fact, it is pretty apparent that T.J.'s value is very high."

Colangelo threw in Nesterovic, who makes $14 million US, to offset O'Neal's mammoth contract.

O'Neal, 29, is owed a whopping $44 million US over the next two seasons, but he would provide the Raptors with a powerful presence in the paint.

He has averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocked shots, 1.5 assists and 28.2 minutes in 724 NBA games (515 starts) since he was drafted 17th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1996. 

Problems with his left knee limited him to 42 games last season, when he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 28.7 minutes.

Ford has neck problems

Ford was diagnosed in 2001 with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the openings the spinal cord runs through, and missed the entire 2004-05 NBA season following neck surgery.

When he suffered a neck injury last Dec. 11, Jose Calderon played so brilliantly in his stead that Ford became expendable.

Colangelo promised Ford at season's end that he would work out a trade and, last Friday, tendered a qualifying offer to Calderon to retain the right to match any offers for the coveted restricted free agent.

With files from the Canadian Press