No, it's not Shaquille O'Neal. But Jermaine O'Neal is a pretty darn good player himself. The Indiana Pacers forward/center told reporters yesterday that he'd welcome a trade to the Lakers.
"It's time for me to move on," O'Neal said Sunday at Baron Davis' and Paul Pierce's annual L.A. Stars charity basketball game at USC's Galen Center. "And the Lakers are the team I want Indiana to trade me to."
O'Neal told SI.com's Arash Markazi that he's healthy for the first time in three years after undergoing knee surgery in April. He also said that he's been talking to Kobe Bryant in the offseason and criticized Pacers president Larry Bird for his rebuilding philosophy and trade negotiation tactics. O'Neal expressed additional interest in a trade to New Jersey.
O'Neal is an excellent consistent front-court player who would figure to complement Kobe Bryant fairly well. Any deal for him would require the Lakers to give up Lamar Odom. Then, if rumors and reports are true, Bird and Mitch Kupchak would need to cross an impasse. It's well-known that the Lakers are reluctant to give up Andrew Bynum, while earlier this summer it was reported that Bird wanted the Lakers to take on Troy Murphy's hefty contract.
An O'Neal-to-the-Lakers deal is certainly workable under the cap, and it can make sense for both teams. Kobe has stated that he wants to win now, and O'Neal has indicated that he may opt out of his deal next year. But in order for this deal to become a reality, both teams will need to compromise.