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Healthy Unhappiness For JO, Pacers

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Jermaine O'Neal is unhappy with the minutes restrictions beng placed on him in thanks to concerns about his knee.

As reported by the Indianapolis Star:

O'Neal wanted to remain in the game because his left knee, which caused him to miss 33 straight games, wasn't giving him any problems and the Milwaukee Bucks had trimmed what was a 13-point lead to two.

O'Brien responded by shaking him off like a pitcher does to a catcher in baseball when he doesn't like the sign.

O'Neal, who had 11 points in 19 minutes, slapped his hands together and took his place on the bench for the final eight minutes.

O'Neal's on a minute count, meaning he would have been taken out even if he was having a career night.

"No thought at all -- zero," O'Brien said when asked if he thought about keeping O'Neal in the game. "I've been told by our medical people that's his limit. He said he felt great. I'm glad he felt great. Maybe we can increase his minutes. When I'm told by our medical people he has 20 minutes, that's what we're going with."

Exactly how it should work.

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Well, injuries shouldn't happen.  But they do, and when they do, this is how it should work.  JO should be upset with his minutes, and he should want to be out on the floor, especially while this team still has semblance of a chance left in the playoff chase.  That's what being a competitor does.  It's great the he feels good on the floor, too.

But the Pacers need to understand the situation.  The situation, of course, is that they have a very slim chance at that playoff spot no matter how well they play, that even getting that playoff spot is only going to be worth so much (a likely first-round exit with a team that has a long ways to go) and that they have $44 million invested in this guy in the next two seasons.  So what means most needs to be getting him fully healthy and keeping him healthy for the future.

A player who wants to play.  A coach who wants to play him but knows he needs to be mindful of the future.  Harmonious unhappiness it is in Indy. 

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