Classic example of why playing in New York makes you automatically more relevant than you should be: Stephon Marbury‘s career from 2008 to 2009, a.k.a. As The Truck Turns.
While Steph was going through his soap opera with the Knicks, there was another (arguably better at this stage) NBA point guard (an NYC native, coincidentally) going through almost the exact same drama with his team and being similarly cast as the villain. But because that team was the Indiana Pacers, that player, Jamaal Tinsley, quietly disappeared. There were no “SportsCenter” updates, no newspaper blogs, no YouTube-friendly interviews, no uStream feeds, no Twitter followers. When the Pacers exiled Tinsley this past season, he simply ceased to exist on the NBA landscape.
Yesterday, Indiana finally cut ties with Tinsley, buying him out for $10.7 million when they couldn’t find a trade partner. And just like Marbury when the Knicks finally bought him out, now that Tinsley’s price tag has gone down considerably, he should get some renewed interest from teams looking for help at the PG position.
Tinsley has enough talent to start for some teams, but will inevitably be asked to come off the bench for whoever picks him up — if he gets picked up. He may even be asked to be the third PG on the depth chart. Right now he has to prove himself; prove that he’s in shape, that he’s not a team cancer. And he’ll most likely have to take the veteran’s minimum salary to get that chance. But if he wants to stay in the League, he’ll do it. If nothing else, to prove the Pacers wrong.
There are a handful of teams that could use a backup point guard, and could afford Tinsley for cheap: Boston, Memphis, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philly, Phoenix and Portland among them. But those teams also have other, younger options, available players like Marcus Williams who recently shined on a semi-big stage (summer league) and who have less personal baggage. And for Tinsley, a guy who was described as “sullen,” “underachieving,” and “maddening” by Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz in Thursday’s paper, one who has had notable scrapes with the law and is widely believed to have a bad attitude, would those teams even be willing to risk the minimum salary on a one-year experiment?
And because he’s also got some of that Jamaal Magloire Syndrome — looking a lot older than his 31 years and seems like he’s been in the NBA forever — he’s even less attractive. (A bad look for every other “Jamaal” who’s trying to get into the NBA now.)
Again, the issue isn’t whether or not Tinsley can play. The last time he saw an NBA court, he averaged 11.8 points and 8.4 assists for the Pacers in ’07-08, although during that season he was limited by injuries and only played in 39 games. Basketball-wise, he’s an upgrade over guys like Chris Quinn, Goran Dragic and Anthony Johnson. I’ve seen Tinsley take over games by himself, either scoring the ball or running the show and getting everyone involved. I’ve seen him break down some of the League’s best defensive point guards with his handle.
But more than just proving he can play, Tinsley needs to prove he’s not the negative force Indiana made him out to be.
Would you want him on your team?