Kurt Thomas struggled with foot issues last season and was eventually released by the New York Knicks when he was forced to undergo surgery, ending his season. Most believed that would be the end of the 40 year old's long and distinguished NBA career. However, that hasn't stopped the Chicago Bulls from continuing to monitor the 18 year veteran. Should the Knicks, who also need frontcourt depth, do the same?
The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are just two of the teams still looking to add depth to their frontcourt. However, they're also probably the two teams with the biggest ties to Kurt Thomas should he decide to continue his career. With the questionable frontcourt talent left on the free agent market there's no reason why both franchise's shouldn't be monitoring his progress towards getting healthy. The question is, will he decide to keep playing?
Back in May, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported Thomas may not be calling it quits.
“Honestly, I haven’t thought much about it,” the former Knick said. “I’m just concentrating on getting healthy.”
“I definitely miss being around the guys,” Thomas said over the telephone from his home in Dallas. “I miss being a part of the playoffs. And I just miss being around basketball. I love the game.”
Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com reports that Thomas leaving the door open to continuing his career has led to the Bulls monitoring his progress.
....which should be around about December time. Might carry an extra guard until then, unless Pittman impresses enough. @Morten_S_Jensen— Mark Deeks (@MarkDeeksNBA) September 13, 2013
The Bulls have a very crowded backcourt. The fact that they just signed guards Patrick Christopher and Kalin Lucas to a non-guaranteed training camp deals only makes that backcourt even more crowded. However, what they really need is frontcourt depth.
As Mark Deeks reported, Dexter Pittman will be able to fight for a roster spot with Chicago as he too will join the team for training camp. That being said, Pittman has been disappointing in his short NBA career thus far.
That being said, Pittman is only 25 years old, he's 6'11" tall, weighs 285 pounds and has had plenty of time in the NBA D-League to work on his skills. Pittman was selected 32nd overall by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft.
He played for the Heat from 2010-13 where he had several stints with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League (2010-11, 2012-13). In February 2013, the Heat traded Pittman and a second round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for a trade exception and the rights to Ricky Sanchez. However, Memphis waived Pittman in mid-April.
Pittman was a 2011 NBA Development League All-Star and was a member of Miami's NBA championship team in 2012. Now he'll get his chance to latch on with another very talented squad in Chicago. If he impresses their coaching staff it may wane Chicago's interest in Thomas. Either way they're likely to keep an eye on Thomas' health and desire to play.
There's no reason why the Knicks shouldn't do the same thing. Right now the Knicks only have one center on their roster, Tyson Chandler. While they're likely to fill most of the reserve minutes behind him with the group of power forwards they have, the Knicks should be monitoring any and all big men available.
The Knicks should be monitoring Earl Barron, Louis Amundson, Hamed Haddadi, Sean May, Pittman, Thomas and any other big man who might possibly help them. While none of them are likely to make or break the Knicks season they'd also be foolish to not want as much depth as possible.
Additionally, when you look at this list it could be argued that a healthy Thomas could be their best option. Is he old for an NBA player? Yes. However, he's a fundamental player who plays solid defense and loves New York. In fact, the Knicks and their fans love Thomas as well so it's a great match. Remember, this is the 15th roster spot.
Plus, what comes with his age is a lot of experience and the voice of a coach. Thomas could be an incredible influence on a young Jeremy Tyler. He also may be able to give Andrea Bargnani some advice on fighting through injuries and conserving his health. Remember Thomas' career was suppose to be over several times and fought through injuries his entire career.
On top of that, there's nothing stopping clubs from carrying a non-guaranteed player for the first few weeks of the season, seeing how he does and deciding if they should cut him or not prior to January 10 when contracts become guaranteed. That could allow both the Bulls and Knicks the chance to bring someone in, gain a practice body and emergency backup with the option of sending them home to create room for Thomas or someone else if they so choose.
First though the front office needs to keep an eye on Thomas' health. Quite frankly, that's their job. Glen Grunwald knows that. There's little doubt he won't take a look if Thomas decides he want to return to the court. Until then, expect the Knicks to eventually sign a big man to a non-guaranteed contract.
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