Thomas augments toughness of Bulls’ frontline


Jul 26

The Bulls and Kurt Thomas made it official on Monday, as the 15-year NBA veteran signed his contract with the team following a physical exam. The deal, first reported by Sam Smith, was agreed to last Thursday evening.

“I feel great,” Thomas said while at the United Center. “I’m definitely strong as ever both physically and mentally. Coming off of last year, I feel like I can still play at a high level. I have tried to carry that on into the summer and I am really looking forward to training camp this year.”

Thomas joins the Bulls having already played for the team’s new head coach, Tom Thibodeau. Their paths overlapped from 1998-2003, when Thibodeau served as one of Jeff Van Gundy’s assistants and Thomas played for the Knicks.

“He has a tremendous knowledge of the game,” Thomas said of Thibodeau. “He’s a very hard worker—it seems like he eats and sleeps in the gym because he never leaves. He puts in the time to make sure his team is prepared.”

Thomas presumably rounds out a Chicago frontline that includes starters Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, along with reserves Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. Thomas spoke highly of Boozer and Noah, citing the Boozer acquisition as one of the reasons he chose to join the Bulls.

“They’re both extremely talented,” said Thomas, who has posted career averages of 8.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in 966 games. “Joakim is a young, talented center who is an up and coming player in this league. He’s very long, athletic and he can really run the floor. He’s improved every year he’s been in the league. It’s good to see that kind of continued growth.

“With Carlos, he’s been very solid ever since he was a rookie,” Thomas said. “You look at what he did in Cleveland and Utah, and you don’t expect anything to change. He can play inside and out. He finishes well around the basket with both his left and right hands. He has a nice 18-foot outside jumper and a good overall feel for the game. He knows how to draw the double team and kick it to the open man.”

Thomas isn’t sure how many minutes he’ll play, but he said he’ll be happy to take on as much playing time as Thibodeau hands out.

“I would love to play 20-25 minutes a game,” he said. “But whatever Coach determines is best to help the team win is fine with me. I’ve been around a long time and I still enjoy playing the game. I like being out there with my teammates trying to make a difference and win games.”

Where Thomas might be of particular help is the postseason, a timeframe he’s gotten to know well throughout his career. Having played on 10 playoff teams and in 89 playoff games, he said that the postseason mentality actually comes into play well before the summer months arrive.

“It starts at the very beginning of training camp,” Thomas explained. “I’ll show up as a solid veteran who is going to bring it each and every day. When the playoffs hit and everyone sees that I’m still going strong, hopefully that will push some of the younger players who might still be trying to find their niche in this league.”

Over the years, Thomas has been compared to two players with Bulls ties among others, one of them being Dennis Rodman. Both hail from Dallas and coming out of college, Thomas said he was described as “Rodman with a jump shot.”

Another player which Thomas has drawn comparisons, perhaps more fittingly, is Charles Oakley. Known for his prowess on the defensive end of the court and his hardnosed style, it’s not something that Thomas shies away from.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Thomas said of playing the enforcer role. “That has kind of stuck with me throughout my career. I just love to compete. If that comes with getting nasty with guys inside, then so be it. Sometimes you need to play physical. Oakley was a tremendous player and if someone wants to compare me to him, it’s definitely a complement. I’m always going to be there for my teammates and I expect them to be there for me.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below: