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Drbio
07-10-2003, 03:53 PM
O'Neal to get seven-year, $120 million deal

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ESPN.com news services


Jermaine O'Neal has decided to re-sign with the Indiana Pacers for what is believed to be a seven-year deal worth approximately $120 million, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

Earlier this week, O'Neal canceled scheduled visits to San Antonio and Dallas. In spurning the Spurs -- O'Neal's most serious other suitor -- the 6-foot-11 forward traded a chance to play with league MVP Tim Duncan.

Duncan flirted with the Orlando Magic as a free agent three years ago, after he helped San Antonio win the 1999 NBA title, but ultimately re-upped and led the Spurs to a second championship this past season.

"I admire Tim Duncan, because he put on his hard hat and said, 'I'm going to stick it out,' " O'Neal told the Star. "He was dedicated to one team and to winning a championship. Now he has two. That's what makes the really good players great.

"That was the difference. I said, 'OK, it would be easy for me to run to a team.' Me and Tim Duncan could be an unbelievable partnership for years to come. It was a tough decision, but when it came down to it, my love for my city and my team was more important than chasing a championship with another team."

O'Neal, 24, is expected to sign his new deal July 16 -- the first day free agents can sign contracts under NBA rules.

The Pacers still have two other key free agents on the market -- All-Star center Brad Miller and five-time All-Star guard Reggie Miller -- but Pacers team president Donnie Walsh thinks building next season's Pacers roster will be easier now that O'Neal apparently is in the fold.

"It's big," Walsh said to the Star. "If you're out there trading, you're going to wonder if [O'Neal] is going to be here. Let's say he didn't sign for a long time. We might lose some guys [who would otherwise be interested]."

Brad Miller's deal will be next on Walsh's list and figures to be more complicated.

His agent, Mark Bartlestein, has said Miami, San Antonio and Utah are among the teams interested in Miller.

Walsh expects that list to grow once the top free agents are off the market, but he remains hopeful Brad Miller will return to Indiana.

He averaged 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, his first full one with the Pacers since being acquired in a trade with Chicago.

Brad Miller grew up in northeast Indiana and played at Purdue. Walsh hopes that -- and a substantial offer -- helps persuade him to stay.

"That's a different process because of the way free agency works," Walsh said. "When you're not maxing out a deal, it is a negotiation."

Reggie Miller was the heart of the Pacers when they reached the 2000 NBA Finals, but his role has been decreasing steadily.

He is the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers (2,330) and is 15th on the league's all-time scoring list (23,505).

He also played for the 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. team, but he will turn 38 next month.

Walsh said Wednesday that Reggie Miller will be third in line on the Pacers' priority list.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

one long blue sock
07-10-2003, 04:02 PM
With the West getting even stronger i bet he will have a break out season and the Pacers will go to the finals.

They are the only east team with good inside players.***(jo, Miller) The Nets are probably gonna lose Kidd, i wouldn't fire Scott.


*** except for Pistons.

cookies_n_mavs
07-10-2003, 07:48 PM
I guess I expected as much..for him to just stick around and not go anywhere.

MavsFanFinley
07-10-2003, 09:19 PM
No surprise here. I could see Kidd and Malone leaving, but I wasn't real confident that O'Neal would when all was said and done.

ames7
07-10-2003, 11:51 PM
Oh well. At least he didn't go to the Spurs. Just as well that he stayed in the East.