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Eastern Conference Insider: Tinsley, Marbury still unwanted

By Rob Peterson,
Posted Nov 18 2008 5:12PM

For two guys who used to hand out a lot of dimes, point guards Jamaal Tinlsey and Stephon Marbury could use a couple themselves right now.

Though on their teams' respective rosters and reportedly healthy, neither the Pacers' Tinsley nor the Knicks' Marbury have seen one minute of playing time in the regular season.

For these guards, it's been DNP -- Franchises' Decision.

Team president Larry Bird said before the season that Tinsley and the Pacers would separate at some point.

"What it really comes down to is I really like Jamaal as a person but it's better if we go in a different direction," Bird said in October. "We're still talking to some teams and hopefully something can get done in the next few days. ... He'll stay wherever he's at until we get something done."

Being on the shelf is nothing new for the oft-injured and mercurial Tinsley, who has missed an average of 33 games per season over the last four seasons.

One NBA scout said it may be difficult to trade Tinsley.

"I don't know what team in their right mind would want him in their locker room," said the scout. "The only way I would take him was if he averaged 20 points and 10 assists. Even then, I'd think twice. I don't think you can win with him."

Though healthy, the Knicks' Stephon Marbury has spent the season on the sidelines.
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On Nov. 15, the Indianapolis Star reported Tinsley's agent, Raymond Brothers, approached the team about a buyout of Tinsley's contract. Bird responded through a team spokesman: "Our position stays the same as it's always been. We're still trying to trade him."

Two days later when we asked if anything had changed, the Pacers spokesman said: "Still the same."

Even while he's been on the shelf, Tinsley's been in the news, however tangentially.

On Oct. 3, the New York Post reported Tinsley was headed to Denver for Chucky Atkins and Stephen Hunter. It didn't happen and it turned out to be that rare non-trade that worked out for both teams. One month later, the Nuggets had All-Star Chauncey Billups turning them into a legit threat in the West. Atkins and Hunter are injured, and instead of having one healthy guy on the shelf (Tinsley), the Pacers would have two injured guys.

In fact, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz now has to walk to Kokomo, Ind. because of Tinsley. He promised to walk to there if Tinsley was still on the Pacers' opening night roster and Kravitz is walking, albeit on a treadmill because the Indiana Department of Transportation deemed a 35-plus-mile walk on a major highway as unsafe.

In New York, no one has made such a promise regarding Marbury. One reason could be that Marbury not playing this season caught a lot of people by surprise. Marbury played about 20 minutes a game in the preseason and even started once. So, having a healthy, former All-Star practicing and traveling with the team (but not playing) is not exactly out of sight or out of mind.

There have been two recent twists.

One, Marbury, though healthy, didn't dress for a game in San Antonio last week, while an injured Eddy Curry did.

And Tuesday, the New York Post reported the players union was stepping to the line for Marbury to talk buyout with Knicks president and general manager Donnie Walsh.

"Marbury is definitely a talent," our scout said. "I wish the Knicks would hold on to him rather than allow him to go somewhere else and excel.

"I would see why New York isn't playing him. His contract number is so high, I can't see the Knicks taking that kind of money in return. But I think the Knicks are doing the right thing with the new regime. They kind of have a honeymoon period and they think they're playing the right guys ... guys that need their minutes."

Marbury will pull down $21 million this season while Tinsley is still owed $21 million over the next three seasons. Buyouts may be the only option for Marbury and Tinsley to see playing time because the trade market for both is soft.

"Marbury would be easier to move as the trade deadline approaches because of his expiring deal," one NBA GM said. "Tinsley with three years left makes it much more difficult."

"Put both on the market with buyouts and there will be a line trying to sign either one of them. Most teams in the league have need at the point guard position."

Well, everyone except New York and Indiana.


• Speaking of New York, we've been getting some noise in the Race to the MVP mailbox about the Knicks' Zach Randolph. While some are touting him for MVP (sorry, folks -- no can do there), could an All-Star berth be in the offing for Z-Bo? The NBA scout we talked with said it's a possibility.

"I think that it'd be tough in the East," our scout said. "[Chris] Bosh is playing out of his mind, LeBron and KG is so good. But Zach Randolph is at an All-Star level: a power forward who's 20-10.

"He's getting that many shots in that offense. He's outplayed Elton [Brand], but he's still behind Bosh. But [he's] definitely an All-Star at 21-13."

Randolph has thrived in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, racking up 20.8 points per game and grabbing 12.9 rebounds. Before the season, Walsh noted Randolph -- a guy who has played plenty with his back to the basket -- may do well playing from the high post on offense.

"Nobody thought he could play like [this]," Walsh said. "I know Zach Randolph is a good basketball player. Once you get him on the court, he knows how to play."

• It's time to cue the calliope music and send in the clowns.

The Bulls leave the United Center and take their act on the road for their annual Circus Trip as they make way for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus -- which sets up its big top at the arena from Nov. 18-30.

The Bulls schedule mirrors a clown car as they try to shove seven road games into 12 days. Save the trip's finale in Philly on Nov. 30, all of the games will be west of the Mississippi.

These trips have become a circus unto themselves for the Bulls and not in an entertaining way. Since the 1999-2000 season, the Bulls have gone a combined 6-52 in their circus trips. In the first three seasons (1999, 2000, 2001), the Bulls left the United Center with identical 1-5 records. Each year, they returned home 1-12. In 2002, the road trip was only six games, but they still took a goose egg. It wasn't until Nov. 24, 2004 before the Bulls won a game, 101-99, in Utah.

The Bulls best recent circus sojourn came in 2005 when they went 3-3, beating the Lakers, Spurs and Rockets at the trip.

And in case you're wondering, Jordan's Bulls teams went a combined 46-39 in their Circus Trips, including a perfect 6-0 in 1991. In their 72-win season, the Bulls went 6-1, losing only to Seattle.

• Before the season, the Celtics said they were hungry to repeat and intimated they wouldn't give up their crown without a fight.

Who knew that they'd take attitude somewhat that literally?

Boston leads the NBA with 22 technical fouls and on Monday, Kevin Garnett was suspended for Tuesday's game against the Knicks for a chippy shoving match Saturday with Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut. Garnett whipped his left hand toward Bogut's face after the Aussie hit KG with an elbow on a follow through after a shot. Bogut's foul was upgraded to a flagrant one.

If you've watched any Celtics game in person or on TV, you can see there is no let up in this Boston squad. This past week the Celtics played three of the more intense regular season games I've ever seen: a 94-87 win over Toronto on Nov. 10, a 103-102 thriller over Atlanta on Nov. 12 and a 102-95 overtime escape from Milwaukee.

KG's intensity pulses throughout the whole team, especially on defense. They're going to get in your face and won't be shy about it. The more intense they are, the better the Celtics play. But the big question is: how long can they keep it up?

It may be getting to them already. Coach Doc Rivers called his Celtics "the most miserable 8-2 team I've ever seen."

• Being from Milwaukee, I do tend to keep a keen League Pass eye on the Bucks. So pardon me for jumping on the bandwagon Frank Madden of the Bucks blog Brew Hoop has started driving.

I am officially a member of the Luc Mbah a Moute fan club. For people who aren't Bucks, ahem, observers, you may not understand why we are gaga over a second-round pick with seeming offensive limitations. Mbah a Moute gives the Bucks something they've haven't had since Alvin Robertson back in the mid-'90s: a defender worth cheering.

While Robertson was a master at playing the passing lanes, Mbah a Moute uses his length and tenacity to lock down opponents. His hustle seems to be limitless, too. He grabbed 17 rebounds in the Bucks' OT win in Memphis last Friday, 10 of them on the offensive end.

Against the Celtics on Saturday, Mbah a Moute hit a 20-footer with seven seconds left in the first quarter. He then started running down court, stopped on a dime, turned, stole the inbounds pass and while falling out of bounds, found Ramon Sessions, who was fouled and hit two free throws to end the quarter.

Now, can you see why I'm a subject of Mbah a Moute's, who is a prince in his native Cameroon?

And does any team in the league have a better cadre of second rounders than the Bucks: Michael Redd, getting-better-ever-day point guard Sessions and Mbah a Moute?

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