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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012
Desperate Knicks could use Tinsley
By PETER VECSEY
NEW YORK — Kobe Bryant recently "pinpointed" Jamaal Tinsley as an ideal conductor of offensive arrangements, exactly what the Lakers (and Knicks) distinctly lack.
While there's really no reason to solicit a second opinion on Tinsley once Kobe expressed his considered "viewpoint," it's germane to note the third-string Jazz orchestra leader is supported by a steady stream of unprompted praise.
During my week with Golden State in preseason, assistant coach Pete Myers, a 12-year backcourt veteran, fervently fingered Tinsley as one of the last in a vanishing breed of classic playmakers.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who might have some insight into that species, was all for getting him, but Utah already had signed him to a veteran's minimum ($1.2 million) contract.
Ten days ago, Spurs guard T.J. Ford paid homage to Tinsley in a spontaneous tweet, tagging him "one of New York City's finest PGs."
Earlier this week, after watching Tinsley make mesmerizing, metrical music in the final six minutes of a 108-79 blowout win over my Hedge Clippers, Pacers' patriarch Mel Daniels succinctly appraised Jamaal.
"He knows how to play the game of basketball efficiently," Daniels said of Tinsley.
I lead the column with Tinsley, why?
Because the Knicks are 6-10, their three top scorers are shooting .413, .404, and .384; the team is 28th in the league in field goal percentage; and only four opponents have compiled fewer assists.
Clearly, the Knicks can't wait much longer for Baron Davis to get healthier than he's been in years and then stay that way for what's left of the season.
Clearly, the team urgently needs an infinitely more skilled floor coach, someone undaunted by egocentrics' endless calls for the ball.
Clearly, the sideline coach can't get Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert to take better percentage shots.
Are they not listening?
Are they not running plays to fruition because nobody can pass, dribble and penetrate on the same possession?
Or is Mike D'Antoni not saying much of anything that makes sense?
All of the above, most likely; a down-the-stretch review of the Suns-Knicks game last Wednesday shows New York, down by four or five points, hoisted four consecutive 3-point shots with fewer than four minutes on the clock. Not one single play call (at least by these naked eyes) to post up 'Melo or a slash play to draw a foul.
Obviously, all it took to exhume the setting Suns — losers of five in a row, including a 31-point pistol-whip at Chicago the night before — was seeing their former coach misadjusting from the other bench.
Remember the good old days when opponents — not overpaying customers — were the ones who feared going to the Garden?
Hey, I can appreciate Carmelo is hurting, but that certainly didn't stop him and Amare from launching more than half (44) of the team's total shots . . . and missing 32 of them.
Defensively, give the Knicks credit. Botox couldn't have peeled years away from Steve Nash (26 points, 11 assists) any better.
Is the head-up-at-all-times 191-cm Tinsley, 33, the solution to any of those problems?
The Knicks supposedly wanted him around the same time the Jazz scooped him up from the D-League L.A. D-Fenders. That didn't necessarily mean D'Antoni wanted him, only that someone in management voiced interest.
What's more, it definitely doesn't mean D'Antoni — his history with Brooklyn-born guards being what it is — even would play Tinsley if the Knicks somehow managed to get him.
The "point" is, if Tinsley isn't available at the moment, in only a matter of weeks he may shake free. Should the Jazz keep him past Feb. 10, his contract becomes fully guaranteed.
Why wait to find out?
Indications are, it shouldn't be all that difficult right now for the Knicks (Lakers, Thunder, etc.) to acquire Tinsley. It's not as if Tyrone Corbin shows any signs of recognition for how smoother plays are executed when Jamaal directs the flow.
From what I've observed in the preseason and thus far in 15 games, the Jazz coach displays zero appreciation for the improved play of established and young players alike under Tinsley's cadenced guidance.
Then again, maybe I'm misreading Corbin's likes and dislikes. His team is a startling 10-5; a torrent of road games is forthcoming.
Who am I to say he has no feel for Tinsley's know-how and the positive reaction of teammates to him?
After all, Corbin is operating under the influence of starter Devin Harris (pre-Dallas; 8.6 points 4.8 assists, 2.1 turnovers, .376 field goal percentage) and sub Earl Watson (3.6, 4.5, 1.8 and 41 percent), perhaps the league's most pointless duet.
Before wrapping up this subject, what a sad commentary that Jackson had to become the Warriors' coach to get the most out of the Knicks — David Lee and Nate Robinson.
Memo to David Stern: When I'm watching the game on TV, and the referees at the game are watching the game on TV more than I am, we have issues.
Taking nothing away from the latest Chauncey Billups big shot, but the last minute or so of the Mavericks-Clips game on Jan. 18 took so long, Mitt Romney had time to stash more millions in the Caymans.
The three whistle blowers-Tony Brown, Bill Kennedy and Kevin Cutler — spent so much time looking at the monitor to check "ball off who? . . . foot on the line, foot in the mouth — even my portfolio lost interest.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.