The National Basketball Players Association is preparing to file a grievance against the Indiana Pacers on behalf of banished point guard Jamaal Tinsley, according to sources. The grievance should be filed within the next week.
The Pacers exiled Tinsley before training camp in October, telling him to stay away from the club until it traded him. Tinsley initially agreed without complaint, but with the Feb. 19 trade deadline nearing and no deal on the horizon, he is getting antsy. Tinsley, who will turn 31 on Feb. 28, has two years and $14.7 million left on his contract and is concerned about his "state of limbo" dragging into future seasons.
Indiana president Larry Bird said Monday that a pre-deadline trade remains a possibility and that he is talking with several teams about Tinsley. He said there is no way he will rejoin the Pacers.
"We're not bringing him back," Bird said. "Our owner made that clear. We're doing everything we can to move him and I really hope we can, not just for us but for Jamaal too. He's a basketball player -- a pretty good basketball player -- and he needs to be playing."
Raymond Brothers, Tinsley's agent, said his client just wants to play.
"The Pacers told him he wasn't invited to training camp, not welcome at Conseco Fieldhouse," Brothers said. "He's not in the media guide or a part of anything they're doing."
Potential outcomes of a grievance could include an arbitrator forcing the Pacers to either buy Tinsley out of his contract or waive him.
Tinsley has averaged 10.4 points and 7.0 assists over his seven-year career, all of which has been played in Indiana. After trades of Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, Tinsley is the last remaining vestige of the Pacers' recent era of lawlessness, highlighted by the 2004 brawl in Detroit, that cost the club much of its local fan base.
But Tinsley's baggage may not be the biggest detriment to a trade. His contract and the fact that he's injury-prone, having played more than 42 games just once in the past five seasons, have scared off teams.
Tinsley has been with the Pacers since 2001-02. He played in just 39 games last season, the fewest in his seven-year NBA career.
Last March, charges in connection with a bar fight were dropped against Tinsley and teammate Marquis Daniels in exchange for 32 hours of community service. But the Pacers deemed Tinsley expendable in a roster shake-up that brought in seven new players over the summer.
His nameplate was removed from his locker at Conseco Fieldhouse, and the team sent his belongings to him in Atlanta.
Pacers co-owner and CEO Herb Simon said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the team has consistently been trying to move Tinsley.
"Other teams love talking about him. and nothing has happened yet, basically," he said.
Simon said his desire is that Tinsley returns to action soon.
"It just didn't work out," Simon said. "He's not a bad person, although things happened here which were not good. It was time for him to move on, and we're trying to help him move to a place that will be better for him."
Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.