Jamaal Tinsley to use D-League as a comeback vehicle

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In its current form, the D-League is a sensible option for any player on the cusp — or targeting the cusp — of making an NBA roster. As Antonio Daniels and Antoine Walker showed last year, that group doesn’t entirely consist of undrafted rookies or former college standouts bouncing back after a few years in Europe; the D is a legitimate landing spot for outcast NBA talent in any form, even players who don’t totally mesh with the league’s developmental goals. It’s a very visible domestic league with explicit NBA ties, showcases for NBA personnel, easily watchable games, and a built-in PR machine in the form of the NBA itself. If those structural advantages don’t make sense for the Daniels’ and Walkers’ of the world, I don’t know what does.

In their vein, another notable NBA name will try their hand in the D-League this season: Jamaal Tinsley. We last saw Tinsley making his initial comeback attempt in 2009-2010, when he suited up as a reserve for the Memphis Grizzlies after not playing NBA ball for the previous year and a half. Now Tinsley will give it another go, this time by entering his name in the D-League draft, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.

This could be a great opportunity for Tinsley to jump back into the NBA player pool (much like Daniels did last season), but he obviously comes with a few more red flags than the average call-up candidate. Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside explains:

A first round pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Tinsley was injured often enough that he made it through just more than 53 games just three times during his eight-year NBA career — and that isn’t counting the fact that he sat out the 2008-09 season while exiled from the Indiana Pacers or this past season after not finding an NBA home due to a lackluster comeback season with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2009-10 season.

This isn’t to say that Tinsley won’t make the most of his D-League opportunity because it obviously takes quite a bit of humble pie to be able swallow one’s pride and announce to the world that the D-League is going to be the league you’re calling home. It does make me wonder if he’ll stick it out, however, knowing he’s been unhappy in much better situations in the past.

That last caveat is important: Tinsley has been through a lot, but none of that is reason enough for a D-League failure. He’s a talented player who deserves an honest shot at a back-up gig somewhere, and he appears to be earnestly striving for that goal. Nothing should just be given to him, but Tinsley deserves as blank a slate as he can get, even if it still holds the faint etchings of his former NBA life. Maybe he’ll burn out on the idea of the D-League. Maybe he’ll be tripped up by another injury. Maybe he’ll just inadvertently drive himself off of whichever team ends up drafting him. Those are all possibilities, but at the D-League level, does it really make sense to tie all of that baggage around Tinsley’s neck as a presupposition?

Stan Van Gundy backs off feud with ESPN ahead of televised Pistons game

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Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said he wouldn’t give ESPN its usual access – a private pre-game meeting and an in-game interview – in the aftermath of ESPN publishing LaVar Ball’s negative comments about Lakers coach Luke Walton.

The first test of Van Gundy’s new policy comes with today’s Pistons-Wizards game on ESPN… and Van Gundy is mostly backing down.

Van Gundy, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“I got an email from Rick Carlisle of the coaches association and they want me to cooperate, so my whole idea was to boycott the thing in support of coaches,” Van Gundy said. “If the coaches don’t want that, then it would be a selfish thing, sort of a grandstanding thing.”

“I’m certainly not looking to do extra stuff with ESPN.com when those guys call and want to do things,” Van Gundy said. “They want to put themselves out there as a journalistic enterprise — they’re clearly not. They don’t have any journalistic standards. I have no obligation to do anything extra.”

Many media members have quoted Ball on a variety of issues. Coaches threw a fit over this one because they’re sensitive to coaches being criticized. It wasn’t about journalistic ethics or the source. Van Gundy and other coaches simply didn’t like Ball’s conclusion.

I’m so glad Van Gundy is no longer grandstanding. [extreme sarcasm]

He’s not obligated to speak with ESPN reporters, but when Van Gundy rails on journalistic standards as cover for disagreeing with the opinion a journalist published, he sounds a lot like the guy he loves to criticize.

Pistons’ Jon Leuer to undergo season-ending surgery

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Jon Leuer‘s ankles survived this.

But apparently they’re not invincible.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

After suffering a sprained ankle on Oct. 31, the symptoms worsened, as an exam revealed bone fragments and other issues. Leuer has missed the last 35 games and has decided to have season-ending ankle surgery, he told The Detroit News on Friday.

Leuer, 28, has scheduled the procedure to remove bone fragments for next Friday and will have a four-month rehabilitation process.

The Pistons have applied to the NBA for a disabled-player exception

The Pistons have been without Leuer for a while, and they’ve done fine without him. Anthony Tolliver is a capable backup stretch four, and Henry Ellenson adds even more insurance there. Detroit misses Leuer as a stretch center, providing a different style behind Andre Drummond, but Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic have at least decently handled those reserve minutes.

The bigger issue: The Pistons are paying Leuer $10,497,319 this season and owe him $19,510,724 over the next two years and don’t miss him that much. He’s a luxury they don’t need and maybe can’t afford.

Perhaps, they’ll deal him before the trade deadline, as they look to upgrade the roster for a playoff run. Detroit could send Leuer and a draft pick or young player (Stanley Johnson) for a better player on a more favorable contract. How about Leuer and a first-round pick to the Bulls for Nikola Mirotic?

A disabled-player exception (DPE) would be worth $5,248,660, half Leuer’s salary. It could be used to sign a free agent for the rest of the season or trade for a player in the final year of his contract.

But the NBA grants a DPE only if a league-appointed physician rules the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be unable to play through June 15. The reported timeline would have Leuer back in May.

Still, the league tends to be lax with giving out DPEs. Detroit has a chance to get one.

The Pistons are just $2,745,417 below the luxury-tax line. So, they’re unlikely to use a full Leuer DPE to acquire another player (and would still need to clear a roster spot). But it could be helpful in facilitating a bigger trade.

PBT Podcast: All-Star starters mock draft, picking reserves

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The votes are in, and LeBron James and Stephen Curry are your All-Star captains.

For the first time in NBA All-Star history, that means they are picking their own teams, playground style, first from the pool of starters, then the pool of reserves. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports take on the roles of LeBron and Curry and pick their All-Star starters, from James Harden through Kyrie Irving.

Then the pair gets into who should be the All-Star Game reserves — and choosing among the Western Conference guards is brutal. Do they leave out Damian Lillard? Lou Williams? Klay Thompson? And that’s not even getting into Paul George being a bubble All-Star in a deep West.

Kurt and Dan break it all down, plus talk some Kemba Walker trade scenarios.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Aaron Gordon forgoes desperation attempt to win, sinks halfcourt shot instead (video)

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The Magic were in dire straights near the end of their game against the Cavaliers last night. Orlando trailed 104-103 with 0.2 seconds and a jump ball to be tossed at center court. By rule, the Magic didn’t have time to catch-and-shoot, let alone recover the jump ball then shoot. Aaron Gordon had to tip the jump ball through the hoop from halfcourt – nearly impossible, but technically possible.

Instead, Gordon grabbed the jump ball – a violation – then sank a halfcourt shot. What an ironic end.

Cleveland then harmlessly inbounded the ball to seal the win.