It's possible Jermaine O'Neal will play tonight in his homecoming game in Indiana, where the Raptors
centre played the previous eight seasons.
But his return from a two-week-plus absence with a bruised right knee, whether it happens tonight or later, will not coincide with a debate about who should be in the team's starting five – at least not immediately. With Andrea Bargnani
averaging 22.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a starter during O'Neal's nine-game absence, the Italian's roll will not be rocked.
Jay Triano, the Raptors
interim head coach, said O'Neal volunteered to come off the bench to begin.
"He's earned the right to stay in the starting lineup," said O'Neal of Bargnani.
"I have no ego about that. Some guys would want their starting position back, but I've been out for two weeks.
"... I don't deserve the right to come back and take somebody's position that has been playing well."
O'Neal, speaking after his first full practice with the team since he injured his knee Dec.31 in Denver, said he's not sure if he'll play tonight.
It depends, he said, on how the knee reacts today in the wake of yesterday's workout.
"Obviously you guys know my history of coming back a little bit too early and kind of putting my health in harm's way, and I don't want to do that," he said.
"But I do understand the urgency of the team needing my help."