The Miami Heat drafted Kurt Thomas, the 6’9 F/C, in 1995. He is currently the NBA’s oldest active player at 39 years old. Throughout his career, Thomas has played for eight different NBA teams, but his longest stretch with one team was from the ’98-’99 season through the ’04-’05 season, with the New York Knicks.
Now, entering the severely shortened “off-season” right before the start of the, also shortened, ’11-’12 season, Kurt Thomas is a player who could end up back on the Knicks.
First, let’s look at why it makes sense:
Not only has Kurt Thomas played in New York before, but also after his tenure in the Big Apple, Thomas took his talents to Phoenix, and played under the leadership of Mike D’Antoni alongside Amare Stoudemire. Thomas has experience playing in the big market, he has played with Stoudemire, and due to his prior experience with D’Antoni, Kurt will be able to easily fit into the Knicks’ system.
Thomas could bring to the Knicks exactly what they need: a veteran big man who can defend and rebound, while on the floor for 15-20 minutes a night.
Last year, with the Chicago Bulls, while making $1,300,000, Kurt Thomas played in 52 games and averaged 4.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and .8 blocks a game, while playing 25.5 minutes a night.
Over his 15-year career, Thomas has made around $63,500,000. He is in no need of money, so he is likely to come to a team based on his own wants. He has said in the past that he likes NY, and he has been successful with Mike D’Antoni before, so it looks like a good fit, eh?
The fact of the matter is Thomas is a smart player. He will be able to rebound the ball, and knows how to play the game. Also, with two young big men on the roster in Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, assuming he signs a deal, Thomas will prove to be an incredible mentor to both guys.
With Thomas and Billups on the floor at the same time, the Knicks will quickly become one of the smartest teams in the NBA. With Mike D’Antoni on the sideline, with two player coaches on the court, I would expect the Knicks to play very clean, smart basketball.
The New York Knicks are not the only team interested in adding Kurt Thomas to their roster. To me, the biggest hurdle in the Knicks’ path to sign Thomas is the Chicago Bulls.
Last year, Kurt Thomas played the season in Chicago. He has settled down in Chicago and let’s be honest, the Bulls are a very good team. Kurt Thomas, who is only in the NBA at this point to try and win a title, may feel like the Bulls give him an equal, possibly even a better, opportunity to win the championship then the Knicks. For that reason, Thomas will have no incentive to leave his setup in Chicago to head back to NY.
If Kurt Thomas can become a locker-room presence and give the Knicks 10-15 solid minutes, when called on, his signing will be a deemed a success.
Ronny Turiaf, while very energetic when on the floor, has a problem staying on the floor. With Turiaf being injury prone, and Harrellson and Jordan too inexperienced to lead the Knicks during certain stretches, Thomas could prove to be a valuable pickup, even if he plays 10-15 minutes every night or two.