Grizzlies sign Jamaal Tinsley

The Memphis Grizzlies signed free agent guard Jamaal Tinsley, an original draft pick of the club in 2001, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to add a veteran playmaker with Jamaal’s credentials to the team,” Wallace said.  “He will add experience and high-level passing ability.”

One of the NBA’s most prolific playmakers over the last decade, Tinsley ranks seventh among active players and 24th in league history in assists per game (7.0).  In his last NBA season, the 6-3, 195-pound guard averaged a career-high 8.4 assists in 39 games with the Indiana Pacers in 2007-08.

Tinsley, 31, is expected to bring his playmaking abilities to a Grizzlies team that finished 30th in the NBA in assists (17.4) in 2008-09 and ranks 21st in the category this season (18.8).  The Brooklyn, N.Y. native holds career averages of 10.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.66 steals in 30.2 minutes in 398 games over seven seasons (2001-08) with the Pacers. He was waived by Indiana on July 22, 2009.

Originally selected by the Grizzlies with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft, Tinsley’s draft rights were traded in a draft-night deal to the Atlanta Hawks along with Shareef Abdur-Rahim in exchange for the draft rights to Pau Gasol (No. 3 overall), Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright on June 27, 2001. Tinsley’s rights were acquired later that night by the Pacers for a future first round pick.

Tinsley had an immediate impact in his rookie season with Indiana, posting a triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 23 assists) in his 14th career game on Nov. 22, 2001 vs. the Michael Jordan-led Washington Wizards.  Tinsley’s 23-assist performance established a new Pacers record and was two shy of the NBA rookie record, shared by Tinsley’s then-head coach Isiah Thomas (1981-82) and Ernie DiGregorio (1973-74).  Tinsley was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month twice (Nov. 2001, March 2002) and earned 2001-02 All-Rookie Second Team honors.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Now the Grizzlies should sign Stephon Marbury, Dennis Rodman and J.R. Rider. But seriously, this Tinsley signing suggests that Allen Iverson probably isn’t ever coming back to Memphis. Anyway, it’s curious and a bit questionable that the team would choose to add another player with a reputation as a malcontent. The Pacers wanted literally nothing to do with Tinsley anymore. And, his last NBA action was 39 games in the 2007-08 season. Still, if Tinsley works hard and focuses on being a good teammate, he can help them a little.

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