It is obvious that the Pacers are looking to trade Jermaine O'Neal and start a rebuilding process. What jumps out at me is that the Pacers and the Sonics are at the same point. Both of these franchises were at the top of their games in the mid 90's. Each got one trip to the NBA Finals.
However, after their single trip to the NBA Finals parts of their roster started tpo fall apart. For the Sonics, Shawn Kemp went off the deep end simultaneously the core of Det, Perkins (thanks for the correction) the Hawk, etc all started aging. For the Pacers Rik Smits called it quits and the rest of their crew namely Reggie Miller started to age.
Neither team was willing to un-load and rebuild at that moment. Instead, they both tried to re-gain the magic and avoid the inevitable cycle that is the NBA. We all know the Sonics path trying everything from Patrick Ewing to resurrecting Vin to trading GP for Ray. The Pacers gambled with Ron Artest, ran out the string with Reggie and gambled on Peja.
The point is that neither franchise was willing to coincide that the NBA goes in cycles and your time on the top is limited and the fall is unceremonious. The Spurs are the only team to avoid the fall and that is because they hit the jackpot with Duncan. Had they not gotten Duncan when David Robinson retired they would have the same place that the Knicks, Boston, Houston, Chicago and the rest ended up.
It is inevitable in the NBA.