Bulls Review: Kurt Thomas

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
1:08
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Kurt ThomasKelvin Kuo/US PresswireKurt Thomas' defensive toughness and veteran leadership were keys for the Bulls.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster and see where they fit in for the future. Let's take a look at a player known by fans as "Big Sexy."

Kurt Thomas

2010-11 salary: $1,352,181

Season recap: Whenever Tom Thibodeau called Thomas' name he was ready. The problem for Thomas was that Thibodeau didn't really use him during the first two months of the season. But when Joakim Noah had to get thumb surgery in mid-December everything changed. Thomas came into the starting lineup and the team didn't really miss a beat until Noah returned after the All-Star break. Thomas didn't play as much after that point in the year, but he did provide the Bulls with a stabilizing presence every time he hit the floor and in the locker room.

Season highlight: In a January 24 game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Thomas played almost 44 minutes, racking up 22 points and nine rebounds. Just six games before that, Thomas pulled down 18 rebounds in a road game against the Indiana Pacers. None of his teammates seemed surprised Thomas had so much success, although they constantly reminded him just how old he was.

Season lowlight: After playing well since coming into the lineup in December, it had to be tough for Thomas to watch his team from the bench during most of the postseason. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers, Thomas' minutes slowly decreased to the point that he didn't play during a stretch of eight games until Omer Asik went down with an injury at the end of the Eastern Conference finals. Plenty of fans clamored for the presence of "Big Sexy" during the postseason, but Thibodeau decided Asik was a better option.

Final grades: Regular season -- A | Postseason -- B

NoahI've been known as the guy who can hit that shot my whole career. But the last couple of years, my shots have been down. But I just love playing, and when it's there, I just try to be a team player.

-- Kurt Thomas after Jan. 24 game vs. Bucks
Notes: Thomas was everything the Bulls thought he was going to be. A solid locker room guy who could produce when needed. The great thing about Thomas, as Thibodeau noted repeatedly throughout the year, was that if he sat on the bench for weeks at a time and was then called upon on a moment's notice, he would come into the game and play well. He was a well-respected teammate who offered advice when asked. He truly seemed to enjoy his role on the team this year, although, like all players, he wished he could have played more.

What's next?: The question for the Bulls now is should they re-sign Thomas? He'll be 39 whenever the new season starts and the team may decide it wants to go in a younger direction. Having watched Thomas play all season though, there's no doubt in my mind that he can still be a productive NBA player in spot minutes. He was the perfect insurance policy for the Bulls this season and he can certainly fill that role for them again if Thibodeau and company so desires.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.2 3.3 1.7 38.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 12.1
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.7
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1