O'Brien questions Tinsley's dependability
Pacers coach doesn't see his injury-prone point guard playing a key role with the team next season
By Mike Wells
Posted: May 8, 2008
Jim O'Brien said his relationship with Jamaal Tinsley is fine, but theIndiana Pacers coach isn't sure he can depend on the point guard to be his floor leader any longer.
"To say as a coach we're going to go with him as our point guard despite the injuries, you can't do that," O'Brien said during a phone interview Wednesday. "I would love to see him healthy, but that has not been the track record. It's very, very difficult to depend on him when, physically, he's been undependable. When he's on the court, we know what we're going to get. He's a great assist guy, he runs the fast break great. But based on the track record of physical ailments, how much can you depend on him?"
O'Brien campaigned to keep Tinsley shortly after he was named coach last year. Their relationship appeared to sour about a month into the season. O'Brien disagreed with that assessment Wednesday, saying the two were "on the same page" and that Tinsley's left knee injury, which happened Dec. 15 at Miami, precluded him from having the type of season O'Brien envisioned. Tinsley has played an average of 49 games the past five seasons.
Tinsley's diminished status became even more obvious when O'Brien didn't even mention him when discussing the team's core group. O'Brien talked about Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Jermaine O'Neal, Shawne Williams, Marquis Daniels, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Stephen Graham and Ike Diogu.
"It comes down to whether Jamaal is healthy enough to be part of the mix for the future," O'Brien said.
The Pacers will look to move Tinsley, who has three years remaining on his contract, and O'Neal's name likely will be mentioned again in trade talks this summer.
The Pacers have said publicly that they need help at point guard and in the frontcourt, but it's not certain they will select a player at either of those positions in the June 26 draft.
The Pacers will pick 11th if the lottery seeds hold.
Team president Larry Bird has the final say on draft day, and O'Brien said Bird knows what the team needs.
"I think that if there's somebody available that can fill a need, Larry will certainly fill that need," O'Brien said. "But what if you get to the 11th pick and say our need is point guard, and after the 10th pick it's clear that all the point guards we want are gone? Maybe the 18th-best player on the board is a point guard. I don't think you take the 18th-best player the board; I think you take the absolute best player available because the 11th pick is not going to change around our franchise next year. You're still trying to develop a group of players or assets that can grow this franchise."
Diener has surgery on toe
Pacers point guard Travis Diener underwent surgery to remove bone spurs on his left big toe Wednesday. Rehabilitation time is expected to be about three months.
Diener averaged 6.9 points, shot 37 percent from the field and had a 4.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 66 games, including 21 starts, last season.
David Morway was promoted to general manager. He will oversee the salary cap and assist president Larry Bird with all personnel decisions.