Kurt Thomas will back up Joakim Noah (and commit hard fouls)

According to ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell: “The Chicago Bulls have agreed to terms with free-agent big man Kurt Thomas, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. Thomas, a 15-year veteran, averaged three points and four rebounds last season for the Milwaukee Bucks. He will back up Joakim Noah, essentially replacing Brad Miller’s role on the roster. Thomas will undoubtedly serve as a mentor for Noah, as Miller did, and will help rookie center Omer Asik adjust to the NBA.”

Sam Smith of Bulls.com added that: “Thomas agreed to a deal for slightly more than the veterans’ minimum, which means the Bulls have about $3 million remaining to fill out the roster, which now has 11 players.”

Just like the Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson deals, this signing is a good bargain for the Bulls.

Sure, Thomas is a bit long in the tooth — Kurt will turn 38 years young on October 4 — and he’s an offensive downgrade from Brad Miller in terms of passing, driving and shooting range. However, Kurt can hit spot-up jumpers from midrange at a pretty high percentage.

Last season, Thomas drilled 45.2 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet and 47.0 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet. The season before that, those numbers were 53.0 and 46.0 percent, respectively. Thomas will also stick the occasional putback and knocks down his foul shots a good clip (82 percent in 2008-09, 80 percent in 2009-10).

And although he’s lost a step or three — he’s older, it happens — Thomas can provide solid post defense and rebounding for 10-15 minutes a game.

Seriously, Kurt can still rebound. For his career, Thomas has averaged 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. In 2008-09, he averaged 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes. In 2009-10, his per 36 minute average was 10.0. And his 2009-10 rebounding percentage of 15.8 would have ranked him behind only Noah on the Bulls. So Thomas can still corral the basketball, even if his minutes have been reduced in accordance with his gray hairs.

Thomas is also a well-noted NBA tough guy who isn’t shy about committing hard fouls when necessary. If you check the numbers, you’ll notice that Kurt led the NBA in fouls in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and he ranks 41st all-time in total fouls (3240).

As Smith wrote: “Thomas has long been known around the NBA as a player others don’t want to engage, and even last season Thomas famously stood up for one of his teammates. Boston’s Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis had committed a hard foul on Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings. Thomas hadn’t been playing then, but he remembered. When the teams met a few weeks later, Thomas took down Davis with a hard shot that had Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn bellowing ‘thug’ at Thomas. Thomas is a player known to have the backs of his teammates.”

I don’t like Thomas as much as Miller, but he still has NBA skills, came at a (much) cheaper price, and will probably fit Tom Thibodeau’s defense-first system better than Big Brad would have. My only real concern is his age. What if Noah gets hurt? How many minutes could Thomas absorb if Joakim misses significant time?

But hey, maybe I’m just borrowing trouble here.

The Bulls shored up their frontcourt depth while retaining financial flexibility in both the short and long term. That’s pretty sweet. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls spend their final $3 million. I’ve heard rumblings about Eddie House. House is a wee tiny man, but he can shoot the three and play the two. Of course, the Celtics — with whom House won a championship in 2008 — are looking into bringing him back, so who knows?

Bonus video:
Here’s a clip of that incident with Big Baby:


37 Responses to Kurt Thomas will back up Joakim Noah (and commit hard fouls)

  1. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. July 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Solid role player, and a good pick-up for modest money. He will also, along with Boozer, be a good mentor for both Noah and Taj.

  2. Jimmy July 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Was this a better pick up than Ratliff for the lakers?

  3. chicondo@hotmail.com'
    luvabullnj July 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    I’ve always liked Kurt’s game, especially his mid-range jumper. But not sure I like this signing this early. There were younger bigs out there that we should have aggresively pursued before getting the aged Thomas. Would still love to see either Samuels or Plaisted from the Summer league team with the Bulls. And we need to pick up a decent SG as backup.
    I still think T-Mac would be a better pick up then Eddie House or many others out there.

  4. zecpcunha July 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Samuerls will wign with the Cavs. I think Thomas is a good pick-up. Now we need a SG. Rudy Fernandez is my favourite but i would like Shannon Brown too..

  5. ogyu@live.com'
    Ogyu July 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Can’t wait ’til Rondo tries to pop Kurt in the mouth, the way he did Brad Miller!

  6. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale July 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    “I’ve always liked Kurt’s game, especially his mid-range jumper. But not sure I like this signing this early. There were younger bigs out there that we should have aggresively pursued before getting the aged Thomas.”

    You know, that was my first reaction too. In particular, I was thinking about Josh Boone as a nice, young big man with a lot of upside potential.

    That said…the Bulls (now that Miller is gone) are high on youth but very light on veteran leadership. Thomas can provide that. Some people might discount that, but vets can provide a vital role for young teams.

  7. Mahmoud July 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I agree with you Matt. Who’s the oldest guy on the team after Kurt? And besides, hopefully Omer ends up being better than we think he’ll be and Kurt will be more of a mentor than a player. We traded three second round picks for Omer right? In retrospect doesn’t that seem like an awful lot for a guy who is going to be our third center?

    I also saw on hoopshype that the Bulls plan to pursue Shannon Brown ‘hard’ now that the Lakers have signed Matt Barnes.

  8. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint July 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Matt, what are some realistic options with the cap room the Bulls have to fill that last roster spot?

  9. chad July 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    dont think i like kurt thomas, which is why i knew they would sign him. too old and slow. when are the bulls going to mention whether they are keeping acie law, was it just a bunch of crap when they got him and gar said he like acie and he could be a part of our future?

  10. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale July 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    “Matt, what are some realistic options with the cap room the Bulls have to fill that last roster spot?”

    I will lead into my answer with this comment:

    “I also saw on hoopshype that the Bulls plan to pursue Shannon Brown ‘hard’ now that the Lakers have signed Matt Barnes.”

    Shannon Brown is at the top of my short list of potential SGs the Bulls could still pick up. Here’s the list:

    1. Shannon Brown
    2. Roger Mason
    3. Luther Head
    4. Eddie House
    5. Larry Hughes

    JUST KIDDING ABOUT LARRY HUGHES. I couldn’t help myself.

    Honestly, of the guys left, I think Brown has the best upside. He’s young, athletic and hey, he’s a champion. Roger Mason comes in second because of his experience with the Spurs. I actually like Luther Head as a potential bargain pickup for backup minutes. Eddie House, eh, I’m on the fence about, if only because of his lack of size. But he’s played for Thibodeau.

  11. Adrian July 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I like this signing. I am very content with these off season signings. Steal after steal. Cant wait till we play Miami. Kurt will do just what we want and play hard and foul when necessary esp against the Heat. Lets hope our team is healthy. A healthy Bulls in 2010-2011 will be a team that will go neck to neck with the Heat, Celts, and Magic as the power has shifted back to the east, not to mention give the Lakers a run.

  12. TexasBearsFan July 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Solid pick-up. I’m not thrilled about his age, but he’s traditionally healthy and he can be a mentor. Plus, you always need that enforcer type; the guy who comes off the bench to throw hard fouls and not take any guff.

    Plus, he came cheap as hell. This is a Bulls team that’s loaded up with value-priced but solid vets and talented youngsters. They’re going to be fun to watch for the next 7 years or more.

  13. pat5192002@yahoo.com'
    Pat July 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Matt I like your options. Shannon Brown is athletic and can jump. He could always bring a spark off the bench. I also like how you mentioned Roger Mason. The guy is getting no love but he can shoot and play a good 6th man, not to mention that he would be like an 8 or 9 guy for us haha. Keep stacking the bench up with quality players and we’ll have the best bench in the east and that will possibly help us a great amount in big games

  14. loslobosworld@yahoo.com'
    LOBOS July 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    The Bulls just couldn’t help themselves. After all the positive signings, they just had to go and spoil the moment by signing K. Thomas.

    Samuels would have been the easy pick over Thomas, I mean were they even paying attention to the summer league games. They also missed out on J. McGee with the Wizards whom is floating under the radar and will make an impact this year. Even C. Hunter from G.S. would have been a better pick up than Thomas.

    They have to get Shannon Brown and strongly consider replacing Thomas ASAP.

  15. loslobosworld@yahoo.com'
    LOBOS July 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    A waist of roster space.

  16. sappo917@aol.com'
    Brian008 July 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    Another solid pickup by the Bulls. For missing out on the “Big 3” they still managed to fill out the roster with a good amount of talent at a reasonable price.

    Best part about the video is how unfazed Thomas looks when Big Baby tried to get in his face and intimidate him.

  17. turk3665@yahoo.com'
    Jack Dunkulous July 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    This was a great sign. Been asking for this for a week. He stepped in a played big minutes in the post season (after Boguts injury) for the Bucks and did a good job. He is a much better player than Ratliff because he stretches the floor, is a better rebounder, and better position defender. High bball IQ and can help the younger bigs with Coach T’s system.

    Another potential guard we could be looking at is Bogans. He will be cheap, plays good D, finishes well at the basket, and is a descent 3 shooter. Played for Coach T somewhere before.

  18. davebadasslarson@yahoo.com'
    BadDave July 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Oliver Miller was a waist of roster space. Kurt Thomas is the Mjolnir of roster space.

  19. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath July 23, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    This is very good. Solid. Look at his stats with the Spurs for the year before. He can do that for us this year. I don’t see the problem with him: High percentage from the field and from the line, good rebounds and low turnovers. That is the perfect guy coming off the bench. He played with heavy-system coaches in Skiles and Popovich the last two years.

    We have enough flyers on this team. We don’t need everyone to race down the floor (even Asik can get up and down). He knows how to get into position on offense and defense and we need that more than anything from our big. This guy could write a book on setting screens.

    I understand there were other options, but this is better than scrambling for a big body in the end.


  20. Big Joe July 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    This move was a good one! 1st of all it was cheap. 2nd of all age wont matter bcus he’s only gonna play 10-15 minutes a game. He’s gonna be a great mentor to Noah and Taj and hell even Boozer. He brings toughness and veteran leadership that the roster didn’t really have prior to this signing. He’s not a scorer, BUT, he has can knock down a mid range jumper (lost art in the NBA), hit his free throws, and is great at setting screens. Defensively he’s gonna waste the hard fouls that Noah and Boozer cant afford to. He’s also a very good post defender which we’ll need against the like of Dwight Howard. You can do a hell of a lot worse then Kurt Thomas as ur backup Center and 11th man on your roster I can guarantee you that.

  21. Drew July 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Pick up Rasual Butler.

  22. rayvonkidd@yahoo.com'
    ray July 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    bulls 2010-2011 Champions

  23. hongbitter84@aol.com'
    drosefanboy84 July 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    Kurt is a very solid pick up I love the way our bench and starting line up is shaping up too be. its a very exciting time to be a bulls fan baby!!!!!

  24. Steve July 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    GOod pickup if he can play actual minutes. I want to see them get either Shannon, Mason, or Rasual Butler next.

  25. woodstron@yahoo.com'
    Tmoney July 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    its a good pickup. now they have a decent rotation of bigs with Omar as potential. Thomas brings a physical game on defense, solid rebounder, with a nice midrange jumper… not bad for a bit more than the veteran minimum. now we need a two guard with range and solid defense, and a team player..

  26. ralston1983@hotmail.com'
    RKA83 July 24, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    I agree with Big Joe and InkyBreath – The Bulls have been lacking a gutsy player who won’t back down to dirty play. Last player we had stand up to dirty play was kirk against rondo in the 08-09 playoffs. IDK about you, but 6-4 190 kirk don’t scare me unlike 6-9 250 kurt

  27. gmeves24@hotmail.com'
    greg July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    kind of ironic the bulls are going ‘hard’ after shannon brown considering they let him rot on their bench a couple of years ago a la j.r. smith.

  28. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob July 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    I would much rather see the Bulls resign Acie Law, I believe that he has a much higher upside than Shannon Brown or TMac.

  29. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob July 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Asik, at 6’11” and 230 lbs., is going to get hammered. He shot FTs @ 52.7% in 08/09 and 36.4% in 09/10. He does not belong on an NBA roster with that size and those types of numbers. The opposing defense will be Hackomer when ever he is on the court. He needs to bulk up and spend time with a FT coach.

    I strongly believe that both James Johnson and Omer Asik would benefit with time in the D-league. What role will JJ fill? he has the size to be a 3 or 4 and potentially has the skill to be a 2 or 3. The Bulls need to decide what role he is best suited for and begin to focus him on that goal/role.

    Bring Ogilvy and either Chris Richard or Samardo Samuels along from the Summer league.

  30. TexasBearsFan July 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    Boppin—->> So he doesn’t belong in the NBA with that size, but he’s only 2 pounds lighter than what Joakim Noah’s listed at? Just sayin’.

    Oh, and statistically, if you shoot better than 50% from the field, the hack-a-shaq (or whoever else) will actually net your team more points than it otherwise would. The best offenses in the league only score at a rate of 1.1 points per possession or so. That means that you can shoot less than 60% from the line and still have a higher team score when other teams play hack-a-shaq than you normally would. And even if it didn’t, Asik could obviously be taken out situationally where we were worried that might happen.

  31. FElipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    dJ July 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    I think Asik has potential to become a good solid role player for the Bulls in the NBA. The same thing goes for James Johnson. And if they don’t work out for us we should just trade them away before the deadline of 2011 to improve our team ever feather. =)

  32. m_nazabal@yahoo.com'
    Max July 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    DJ???? Ever Feather??? Did you mean even further? Although I agree with your post.

  33. nikhilmbhatia@gmail.com'
    Nikhil July 25, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    I’m really impressed by the financial restraint Gar/Pax has shown this offseason.
    While Amare Stoudemire got close to $100 million, the Bulls got Boozer (a comparable player) for about $75 million.
    While the Bulls forced Orlando to give JJ Reddick $21 million, they darn near stole a better all-around player in Ronnie Brewer for about $8 million guaranteed.
    While Houston shelled out $15 million for Brad Miller, the Bulls gave Kurt Thomas $4 million guaranteed.
    I understand if nobody is doing headstands about the Chicago Jazz era. But the truth is, with Lebron and Wade never truly being on the market, the Bulls have played out the offseason as best they could. They didn’t panic and overpay for Joe Johnson; they filled a huge need by signing Boozer and to a reasonable deal. They’ve added a shooter (Korver), a legit starting SG (Brewer), an upgrade at the combo guard bench spot (Watson) and now Thomas. They have greatly improved their time while not tying themselves up with bad deals. If need be, they will still be able to make a big splash in two years to elevate this team.

  34. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob July 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    The problem with Asik’s FT shooting is it got worse not better. He went from 52.7% in ’09 to 36.4% in ’10. I’m just sayin’. As long as people realize he is a project that won’t get much playing time late in games.

    I still think the Bulls need another guard and C/F that can give some real playing time (7-9 minutes). That being said I am really looking forward to seeing how the current roster gels. It appears to be significantly improved from last year. The Bulls are a solid 7 deep and possibly a solid 9 deep. I see the potential to go deep into the playoffs.

  35. FElipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    dJ July 26, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    Their is no question of a doubt that the Bulls will go further in the playoffs this season. The question is now, can they become a contender team to win a championship title this season? the answer is NO!

    But, if the Bulls can make another good move during the trading deadline of 2011 to improve our team, then we mate have a good chance of beating: Orlando, Boston or Miami in the playoffs and play the Lakers in the finals.

    Go Bulls!!!

  36. FElipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    dJ July 26, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    @ Boppinbob,

    Don’t worry about Asik’s, their is a reason why the Bulls sign Kurt Thomas, to help Asik’s so he can improve his game as a big man. The Bulls right now need to focus on getting a veteran guard someone like: Eddie House or Rafer Alston, since they are good 3 point shooters. Then we can sign a veteran SG-F someone like: Roger Mason or Joey Graham.

  37. airbulls21@gmail.com'
    Matt Steigenga July 31, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    Maybe this Asik guy will work his tail off and have a career like yr this yr were he plays like a Hakeem Olajawon, lol. ANd maybe I will win the lottery too with statements like that lol.

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