We've just had another conversation with Jermaine O'Neal about his departure from the Heat, and we still cannot decide.

Is he taking the high road, or has he veered off onto the illusionary interstate?

He continues to insist that Miami really wanted him back this season, and he therefore harbors no ill feelings toward his year-and-a-half home.

But Miami sources still indicate that O'Neal was not a primary concern when the club went through its starry upgrade last summer. After signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat focused on free agent Mike Miller. Then some money was freed up so Udonis Haslem could get paid.

Near the end of the process, the team might get to O'Neal, if he was still around.

"I knew what they were trying to do the whole time," he said before Celtics practice yesterday. "We had the conversation at the start, and when it was brought to my attention I had to make a decision on what I wanted to do. I told them what I wanted to do, and I moved on."

Had he waited things out, he probably could have gotten the veteran minimum in Miami, while he was able to attract the mid-level exception here.