Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
LOS ANGELES — Marvin Williams was surprised by the news. Derrick Favors was all for it. Coach Tyrone Corbin and general manager Dennis Lindsey were evasive because it's not yet official.
And the guy who'll have another experienced player competing for his point guard minutes?
Current Jazz starter John Lucas III was both diplomatic and optimistic about the impending addition of 10-year NBA veteran Jamaal Tinsley, an impending acquisition that was confirmed to the Deseret News after Wednesday's deadline.
The move was deemed necessary in the aftermath of point guard Trey Burke fracturing his right index finger two weeks ago. The rookie was dubbed as the Jazz's starter but could be sidelined for six weeks or more, pending how his shooting hand responds to last Tuesday's surgery.
Lucas has taken over as the Jazz's starting point guard, but the position's depth is very thin. Utah has used roster hopefuls Scott Machado and Lester Hudson along with Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward to run the offense the past three games.
"We do have to shore up the position," Corbin said, "and make sure once the season starts we’re ready to go."
The 35-year-old, who played the past two seasons with the Jazz, flew into Southern California on Thursday night and is expected to re-sign with the team this morning, pending results of a routine physical.
If all goes well, Tinsley will be in uniform for tonight's preseason finale in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Jamaal’s a vet," Lucas said. "He’s been around. He's been in the system. He knows the system. I’m definitely going to pick his brain to get the system even more. He’s going to help us."
Burke's finger won't be evaluated for another week and a half, so there will be plenty of time for Tinsley to get re-acclimated to the Jazz system. Until now, he was one of seven veteran free agents, including Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, not signed by an organization in overhaul mode.
Terms of Tinsley's contract were not announced. The veteran minimum for a player with his tenure in the NBA is $1.4 million.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, who's with the team in L.A., declined to comment.
"We're looking at it. We'll see what gives us a chance," Corbin said after the news broke following the Jazz's 103-99 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center. "We love Jamaal. He's been here for a while with us the last couple of years, and we hope everything's going to work out."
Tinsley reignited his NBA career with the Jazz after the organization signed him out of the D-League at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. He backed up Devin Harris and Mo Williams with Earl Watson for two years.
Incidentally, the Jazz are holding a morning shootaround today at the Lakers' practice facility, which moonlights as the L.A. D-Fenders home court. Tinsley was with that D-League squad in 2011 when Utah came calling.
In 2012-13, Tinsley averaged 4.4 assists and 3.5 points for the Jazz. He started 35 games while Mo Williams was out with a thumb injury.
The news was a surprise and welcomed by various players in the Jazz locker room who played with Tinsley a year ago.
Marvin Williams said he hadn't heard rumblings of Tinsley returning.
"He’s been in the league for a while, so he’ll help everybody with the leadership role," Favors said. "He also knows the system, the Utah system, because he played with us the last two years, so he'll be a big help for us."
Lucas, one of the few 30-year-olds on the team, put a positive spin on the news that could cost him playing time.
"I’m all about winning, and if he comes in he’s going to be a guy who helps us win and get to that next level," Lucas said. "Then when Trey gets back, we’re going to be at full force."
The move makes Machado and Hudson longshots to make the Jazz's final roster, which has to be trimmed down to 13-15 by Saturday night. Tinsley's addition will up the player total to 14 with guaranteed deals and 20 overall, but it's unlikely any cuts will be made until the team returns to Utah after tonight's game.
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