Just days after the Chicago Bulls let Lou Amundson go after his 10-day contract expired they took to the free- agency list again, this time signing power forward Malcolm Thomas to a 10-day contract. Thomas -as few may know- has been in and out of the NBA Development League and even logged some minutes with the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. What most don’t know though is that Thomas is just another grasp the Bulls organization is making to stop the bleeding.
The Bulls are three days removed from a one point loss to the Denver Nuggets and while some may say that they should have won, it doesn’t really matter. What matters are the nauseating stats that the Bulls put up. Now by nauseating I don’t mean terrible or short coming, I mean literally nauseating. The Bulls had two players play more than 50 minutes in the overtime game and only played eight total players. The twist is that only six of them played more than four minutes. This stat alone will make even shallow fans of the Bulls realize why they took to signing Thomas.
With Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton all out with injuries and with bench reserves Daequan Cook and Vladimir Radmanovic not playing as per coach Tom Thibodeau’s decision, it is clear that the Bulls need more people. Their 15 man roster consists of five players who either cannot or don’t get the chance to play and two players who get garbage minutes (Marquis Teague and Nazr Mohammed). So with only six players suiting up and playing heavy minutes every night, it is clear why Thomas was brought in.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Thomas may not be their answer. Amundson sure wasn’t and it wasn’t because he wasn’t good, it’s because he didn’t get any minutes on the floor. In his 10 days with the Bulls, Amundson played a total of two minutes in five games. If Coach Thibodeau plays Thomas the same way he played Amundson then what is the point of bringing him on at all? The hope that Thomas brings to this team is simple; it’s to give Chicago a secondary big man who can play power forward naturally so the likes of Jimmy Butler doesn’t have to. Against the Nuggets, the Bulls resorted to playing Butler at the four and Carlos Boozer at the five while big men Radmanovic and Mohammed sat quietly on the bench. Benchwarmers will do no good for this team especially when only eight of your now 15 players suit up every night.
Some say that Thomas dominated in the Summer League and even in the vast array of Development teams he played for, but none of that will matter if he doesn’t see any floor time. If Coach Thibodeau wants to sign Thomas and use him then more power to him, but if he’s signing Thomas just to put another big body on the bench then the Bulls will continue to struggle when its players have to log 48 minutes a game with no opportunity for rest.
The Bulls used to be renowned for the depth they had on their bench in the last two seasons, but now they seem to be the laughing stock. Whether it’s Coach Thibodeau’s stinginess to not play his bench players or his determination to win with his starting five, something needs to change. The Bulls are lucky that their current starting five consists of young players, but even young players get tired and when no reserves are able to be found that just means that the offense and defense will suffer as the game goes on.
I admire the Bulls taking Thomas into their organization and I can only hope that he sees more minutes than Radmanovic, Amundson and Mohammed have lately because as we can all see the Bulls need another set of fresh legs on the court.