Point guard has peace of mind

Updated: October 30, 2004, 6:19 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley signed a contract extension on Friday.

Jamaal Tinsley

Tinsley signed a six-year, $40 million extension, a league source told ESPN Insider Chad Ford. Tinsley's current contract runs through the end of the 2004-05 season. The 6-foot-3, 183-pound Tinsley was the Pacers' first-round draft pick in 2001. He averaged 8.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in 2003-04, helping the Pacers to a franchise record 61 wins.

"It feels good that I can just focus on basketball and just playing, focus on things that need to be accomplished here," Tinsley said before the Pacers played their preseason finale against Denver.

It was a happy ending for a player who started last season third on the depth chart behind Kenny Anderson and Anthony Johnson.

"Early on it took a while for me to get to know him," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who took over the team less than a month before the season began last year. "He kept to himself a little bit, but he kept working. There was a quiet knowing in his mind and in his heart that it would work out and it did."

When Anderson went down with an injury in December, Tinsley was inserted into the starting lineup and flourished.

He played so well over the second half of the season that Pacers president Larry Bird dubbed him the team's next All Star.

Now he is the unquestioned floor general for the Pacers, who have championship aspirations this season.

"We obviously feel that Jamaal's really earned the contract and the security," Carlisle said. "It goes to show the kind of faith we have in his abilities to lead our team."

In three NBA seasons, he has averaged 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in 205 contests.

"We are very happy to have Jamaal Tinsley signed to a contract that carries him into the future with the Pacers," team president Donnie Walsh said in a statement. "He is a very important part of our team."

When asked how much the contract will pay him, the soft-spoken Tinsley would only say, "Enough."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press