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Friday, May 6, 2016

Pacers need luck to get top draft pick

Monday, May 19, 2008

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jamaal Tinsley's future with the Indiana Pacers might depend on Tuesday's NBA draft lottery.

It took coach Jim O'Brien less than a season to start doubting Tinsley's reliability. The often-troubled and injured point guard missed 43 games this past season with what the team has called a bruised left knee.

O'Brien is a fan of Tinsley's skills, but isn't sure he can rely on him.

"He needs to rehab all summer in order to be a possibility for us next year," O'Brien said.

The Pacers have less than a 1 percent chance at getting a top-three spot in the draft, but the chances that Tinsley will be replaced or traded increase if Indiana sneaks into the top three because O'Brien said the team will take a top point guard if given the chance.

"If we can get a guy that we think can be a part of the equation for the long run who's a point guard, we'll do it," O'Brien said. "If somebody's not there, (team president) Larry (Bird) just has to take the best player available."

The first three picks in the draft will be determined by the lottery and the remainder of the "lottery teams" -- teams that missed the playoffs -- will select in positions four through 14 in reverse order of their records at the end of the regular season. The Pacers' 36-46 record would give them the 11th pick in the June 26 draft.

The Pacers likely would have to get a top-three pick to nab point guards Derrick Rose of Memphis, Jarryd Bayless of Arizona or O.J. Mayo of USC. Others, like D.J. Augustin of Texas and Russell Westbrook of UCLA, could fall to Indiana if they are in the 11th spot.

Tinsley was having one of the best seasons of his career before the injury took its toll. He averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 assists in 39 games, and Bird even said Tinsley would deserve All-Star consideration if he could maintain his early pace.

He couldn't -- and the Pacers seemingly are ready to move on.

While O'Brien was noncommittal about Tinsley, he was pleased with backup point guard Travis Diener's season, saying he was "glad to have him in the fold for the future."

For now, management is studying film of college and eligible foreign players before starting interviews in June.

The Pacers made their first player move this month, picking up the option on Stephen Graham's deal. Graham, who signed as a free agent last July, played in 22 games for the Pacers this past season. He averaged four points per game and shot 59 percent from the field.

Graham got caught in the rotation behind Mike Dunleavy, who was sixth in most improved player voting, Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels and Shawne Williams.

"We had a majority of players at the wing spots, led by Danny and Mike." O'Brien said. "A little bit of a logjam. Stephen knew it was a logjam. I thought we did a good job communicating with Stephen all year that the idea is not to play everybody equal minutes. We think he can be a guy in the long run who can be a key part of our rotation."

While they controlled the deal with Graham, the Pacers don't control the lottery.

"I'm not a big thinker of luck," O'Brien said. "We don't have much of a chance. My whole focus is 11th."



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