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Pacers Send O'Neal to Raptors, Trade With Blazers

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Associated Press
Friday, June 27, 2008

The Pacers agreed in principle to trade six-time all-star forward Jermaine O'Neal to the Raptors for point guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, the 17th pick in last night's draft -- which turned out to be Georgetown's Roy Hibbert -- and a player to be determined.

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The Pacers were not done, as they sent first-round pick Jerryd Bayless to the Trail Blazers for No. 13 pick Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts.

Bayless was selected 11th overall. The Pacers also sent forward Ike Diogu to Portland.

Rush, whose brother Kareem already plays for Indiana, averaged 13.3 points per game last season for national champion Kansas.

O'Neal was pleased with the move by Pacers President Larry Bird.

"He wanted to get me to a place where I could contend and do what I'm capable of doing," O'Neal said. "His focus is on getting [the Pacers] to a level where they can grow and start to be competitive."

A deal can't be finalized until July 1, when Ford's base-year compensation tag comes off the books.

O'Neal, 29, averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 42 games last season, missing 33 games because of pain and swelling in his left knee.

Ford has had health problems, including having spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the openings of the vertebra the spinal cord runs through, diagnosed in 2001. He suffered a neck injury in February 2004 and was out until the 2005-06 season.

Last season, Ford missed 24 games after hitting his head on the court in December and ended up averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 assists.

Nesterovic, a 7-footer from Slovenia, averaged 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in his ninth NBA season.

ยท NETS, BUCKS SWING DEAL: New Jersey parted ways with the second-leading scorer in franchise history, dealing guard Richard Jefferson to the Bucks hours before the draft for forwards Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Jefferson, 28, averaged 22.6 points per game last season.

Yi, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, will play for the China in the Olympics. He played in 66 games for Milwaukee, averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Simmons averaged 7.6 points in 70 games this past season.

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