Tim Thomas has a history with the Bulls. In 2005, after coming to Chicago as part of the deal that sent Eddy Curry's huge contract to New York (and a bevy of draft picks to Chicago; thanks Isiah!), Thomas was waived and sent home. Talent wasn't the problem. It was, supposedly, attitude, and Thomas has always had a motivation problem, one of the things that's seemed to prevent him from ever capitalizing on his legitimate skills as an NBA point forward. (The only time we've ever seen Thomas interested was in 2006, playing for the Suns with a new contract on the line. And he was good.)
So Thomas' return to the Bulls last week could have been a bit awkward. Does he hate John Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf? Does he loathe former Bulls teammates like Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon? Is he planning on self-sabotage again? If his comments after the Bulls' loss last night are any indication, the answer is no. He pretty much just hated Scott Skiles:
Given that Thomas had been paid his $14 million salary by the Bulls to stay away from the team for months before being waived three years ago, his demeanor was almost as surprising as his return.Thomas made it clear his problems with the Bulls last time stemmed from his relationship with Skiles and not general manager John Paxson, who called Thomas shortly after the trade Thursday.
''[Paxson] really didn't go into it,'' Thomas said. ''I'm pretty sure he felt a certain way about the whole situation. There was a lot of heat on the organization at that particular time. There's really no need to talk about it. That's in the past. The guy who was pretty much controlling things is gone."
We're not sure how much Paxson will appreciate Skiles being referred to as "the guy pretty much controlling things," seeing as the GM is supposed to be that guy, but we're sure he'll appreciate Thomas' general demeanor. At this point in his remarkably resilient and profitable career, Thomas is a true pro at showing up, cashing checks, and giving little if any effort on the basketball court. The last thing the Bulls need are their players loafing. Hopefully, Thomas' attitude leads him to play hard for a team that does need some sort of veteran contribution off the bench. Thomas' versatile fits that bill nicely.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.