Utah Jazz: Keith McLeod, Jamaal Tinsley looking for a fresh start with Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — Two older camp newcomers familiar to basketball fans in Utah — Jamaal Tinsley and Keith McLeod — are excited to be in the Beehive State with a shot at reviving their NBA careers.
Tinsley, Indiana's point guard from 2001-08, is trying to get back in the league after being on the outside looking in since a short stint in Memphis in 2009-10.
He was playing for the L.A. D-Fenders when Utah invited him to this tryout.
"Utah Jazz gave me a chance. I'll make the best out of it, come out here and play hard," the 6-foot-3, 31-year-old said. "I'm healthy. The sky's the limit. I think it's the best opportunity. Good system, it's a system that I think I could do good in. I know what type of organization that it is."
General manager Kevin O'Connor said the Jazz are "cautious a little bit" because of some well-publicized off-court incidents Tinsley was involved in while with Indiana four or so years ago.
"By the same token, you look at the last two or three years where he's been and what he's done," O'Connor said. "You haven't heard word one from him as far as that goes. He's anxious to make a team. … He's somebody who obviously knows how to play."
The 6-foot-2 McLeod has bounced around the NBA, international hoops and the D-League since playing for Utah from 2004-06.
O'Connor likes McLeod's familiarity with the Jazz system, which could come in handy during the squeezed schedule.
"We want to see if they're NBA worthy," O'Connor said of the two veteran playmakers.
McLeod played in 119 games with Utah, including 79 starts. He was involved in the 2006 trade with Golden State, which resulted in Derek Fisher joining the Jazz.
"I'm going to embrace this camp right here and see what happens from here," McLeod said. "No promises have been made, but the opportunity's been given to me, so I'll try to make the best of it."
O'Connor didn't guarantee that the Jazz would carry three point guards as they have in the past.
NUMBERS GAME: Rookies Enes Kanter and Alec Burks survived their first day on the job in Jazz practice jerseys.
For the record, Kanter will sport a single zero as his number. (This means Olden Polynice, the only other single-O in franchise history, will not have his Jazz jersey retired.)
Kanter picked zero for several reasons. For one thing, he's always worn it. Also, it reminds him that he played in zero games at Kentucky and in high school. Recalling how people asked him about being a one-and-done player for the Wildcats, Kanter joked that he was actually "zero-and-done."
Now, he said, "I want to start anew."
Burks' choice is less symbolic. He wanted No. 11 at Colorado, but that was taken by teammate CoryHiggins. So he went with No. 10 with the Buffs, and he's keeping it in the pros.
The Jazz's other 10s: Howard Eisley and Gordan Giricek.
A.K. IN PLAY: O'Connor offered a "no comment" when asked about ongoing discussions he's had with longtime Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Kirilenko, who played the last 10 seasons in Utah, remains in Russia playing and awaiting an NBA deal. He logged his first minutes this weekend with CSKA Moscow after bruising his shoulder and breaking his nose in a fall on Nov. 19.
FAMILY BONDING: Tinsley, who worked out for the Jazz last year, had a strong desire to return to the NBA while he watched from the outside last season.
Sitting out came with one huge blessing, though.
His name: Jamaal Jr.
"It was hard. The good thing, I got to spend time with my son. That's priceless," Tinsley said. "Just being around my son, it took a lot of stress off me."
His desire to play at the highest level remained strong.
"I'm about getting back into the league," he said. "But who don't want to play in the NBA?"
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