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Tinsley Saga Hangs In the Balance

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The New York Post's renowned Peter Vecsey reported Friday that troubled point guard Jamaal Tinsley had been traded to Denver for Steven Hunter and Chucky Atkins.  Mike Wells, the Indianapolis Star's own top-of-the-line beat writer, fired back a report of his own contradicting Vecsey's claim.  Little has been confirmed, which seems to point to there not being a deal as of yet.

As usual with Tinsley, very little seems to make much sense either.

What does seem logical enough would be the Pacers trying to make this move as quickly as possible.  The ship has long since sailed on the productive part of Jamaal Tinsley's days in Indiana, and the sooner his presence on the roster stops hanging over the team, the better.  If the Pacers can dump him on someone while getting back a veteran backup at the point, a big body and the lack of a massive contract, all the sweeter the pot.

But it's this part about possibly convincing (or having already convinced, depending on who you believe) another team to take the other side of that deal that leaves me baffled.  That the Nuggets are said team only adds to the confusion.

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Tinsley's myriad of issues have been rehashed with abundance both in this space and throughout the media over the last few months, so here's the short-short refresher version: doesn't stay healthy, doesn't behave himself off the court, bad locker room guy, atrociously inefficient shooter, decent but not superb point guard. 

Seems like enough to keep most teams away in the first place.  But just in case that glowing recommendation wasn't enough, this guy is also scheduled to make in the neighborhood of $21 million over the next three years.  That's a rather steep price for a guy who doesn't play all that often (his last five games played totals: 52, 40, 42, 72, 39), causes distractions and image concerns by running afoul of the law and isn't known as the world's most coachable player.  

It's also a steep price to pay for a team that took great pains to remove one of its most important players this offseason solely for the purpose of getting rid of his contract.  Marcus Camby is a stand-up guy, an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker and one of the league's best weak-side interior defenders.  He will also make nearly $16 million between now and summer 2010, so the Nuggets sent him out to Los Angeles in exchange for a second-round pick.   

Tinsley makes $21 million and has a contract that extends through the end of 2011.  Of the two guys rumored to be heading out of town in exchange for him, Steven Hunter has the more, um, lucrative deal, which makes him all of $7 million over the next two seasons.  Atkins' deal expires after this season, in which he'll make $3.4 million.

Quick review: The Nuggets make a move that is nearly a cinch to make them depreciably worse in the present in order to save money down the line, despite the fact that the contract in question expires in 2010, the year long built up as one of the NBA's greatest free agent bonanzas-to-be of all time.  Now, they're rumored to be making a move for an injury-prone distraction whose contract runs past the 2010 barrier while giving up two players who make less money and expire prior to 2010 to do it.  Given Tinsley's health and legal histories, there isn't even a guarantee here that he would make the Nuggets a substantially better team.

This makes sense how exactly? 

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