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Pacers trade Jermaine O'Neal to Raptors for T.J. Ford in six-player deal




| July 9, 2008

Pacers trade Jermaine O'Neal to Raptors for T.J. Ford in six-player dealThe Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have acquired six-time NBA All-Star forward-centre Jermaine O’Neal and the draft rights to forward-centre Nathan Jawai, the 41st overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for guard TJ Ford, centre Rasho Nesterovic, forward Maceo Baston and the draft rights to centre Roy Hibbert.

“Adding six-time all-star Jermaine O'Neal to this team puts us at another level with regard to talent, experience and competitiveness in the Eastern Conference,” said Bryan Colangelo, Raptors President and General Manager. “In speaking to Jermaine you get an overwhelming sense that he is focused, determined and willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win basketball games.”

O’Neal averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 34.7 minutes in 519 games over eight seasons with Indiana. He finished in the Top 10 in the NBA in blocks seven times and in rebounding on three occasions. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2002, All-NBA Second Team in 2004, All-NBA Third Team in 2002 and 2003, and an Eastern Conference All-Star from 2002-07.

O’Neal, 29, averaged double figures in points and rebounds for three consecutive seasons (2001-02 – 2003-04). He averaged career bests of 24.3 points in 2004-05, 10.5 rebounds in 2001-02 and 2.8 blocks in 2000-01. He scored a career-high 55 points versus Milwaukee on January 4, 2005 and grabbed a personal career-best 21 rebounds on November 26, 2002 at Washington. His career high for blocks came against the Raptors with 10 January 22, 2003.

O’Neal, 6-foot-11, 260 pounds, has appeared in 70 playoff games. He owns career playoff averages of 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. As a Pacer, his postseason averages increase to 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 50 appearances. He has averaged 11.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in his five all-star games (he was selected as a starter in 2005-06 but was sidelined by an injury).

O’Neal has averaged 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 725 career games. He was selected by Portland in the first round (17th overall) in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was acquired by Indiana in August 2000.

Jawai (pronounced JA-why), 6-foot-10, 280 pounds, was the unanimous 2008 Rookie of the Year in Australia’s National Basketball League. He averaged 17.7 points and 9.6 rebounds in 30 games this past season for Cairns. He ranked third in the NBL in rebounding, fifth in field goal percentage (.575) and ninth in blocked shots (1.0). He scored 20 or more points 12 times. He also captured MVP honours of the 2008 NBL All-Star Game after registering 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Ford is a 6-foot guard going into his fifth year in the NBA. He has career averages of 11.6 points per game and 6.9 assists per game. Two of his four seasons were limited by injuries (55 and 51 games). “I think my health is fine,” said Ford, the eighth overall pick in the 2003 draft. “It’s always going to be a question mark every year and every time I step on the court. I understand that. I’m just going to continue to work on my body and do the things to make sure I’m good enough to perform at the highest level every night. I’m excited about this trade and excited to be going to a team that really wanted me.”

Nesterovic averaged 7.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.9 minutes in 71 games last season. He averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 26.2 minutes in 39 starts compared to 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 14.4 minutes in 32 games off the bench. In his nine-year NBA career, he has appeared in 699 regular season games, averaging 7.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 23.4 minutes per contest. He was a member of the Spurs’ 2005 NBA Championship team.

Baston, a 6-10 forward, is a three-year veteran with career averages of 2.8 ppg and 1.6 rebounds per game. He’s a former Pacer, having played in 47 games in the 2006-07 season. “I’m glad to be back in Indiana,” said Baston. “I’m excited to work with my new teammates, excited to play in Coach O’Brien’s system and I want to make the most of this.” Hibbert, a 7-2, 278-pound center, played four seasons at Georgetown, averaging 10.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Last season, he was a Second Team Associated Press All-America. “I’m really thrilled to be here,” said Hibbert. “It’s a great organization. I just want to do everything I can to help this team win. I know I have to work extremely hard and I can’t wait.”

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