Matt, from Blogabull, wrote a piece on Tyrus Thomas, his odds of breaking out, and what the franchise is set to do with him. One particular statement struck me with great interest, and while I agree with most of Matt's point from a high level, it sent my thoughts spiraling down a different path.
But what I think is worth investing, in both time and money, in Tyrus
Thomas is hard to reconcile with what the team thinks. Because they're
not in a context of building a winning team right now. There's dreams
of a 2010 free agent, and Tyrus Thomas sits on that 2010 cap with a
massive cap hold of his own as a potential restricted free agent. So if
the Bulls do have the chance to sign a max FA (and they still have to
move someone else first, if the cap is going down significantly. This
is such a risky plan, argh.), they'd have to renounce the rights to
Thomas and let him walk for nothing.
This one statement really forced home what I've known for some time. This is Tyrus's last season with the Bulls. Knowing that, what do we do with him? We knew at the start of 08/09 that it was Ben Gordon's last season with the Bulls whether we wanted to admit it at the time or not. Gordon still played a ton, but that may not have happened if Kirk Hinrich was healthy all season.
Tyrus Thomas presently appears to be the starting PF for the Bulls, however, his grip on the position has to be tenuous. He's not a good on court match with Noah, and the franchise isn't going to commit to him long term, so why commit to him short term? Unlike Gordon, whom you play because you want to win, the case for playing Tyrus is largely based on what he might do with practice to allow you to win in the future.
This is a half and half throw away season. The Bulls aren't expected to really compete, but they need to compete enough to remain an attractive destination for 2010 free agents. What the situation begs for is James Johnson to play as much as possible without hurting the end results. I'm not sure that Johnson in over Tyrus hurts the results at all yet either, but he likely will for at least a season until he figures out the league.
The other solution is lots of Deng at PF, but with his injury history, do you really want him banging around with even bigger players? That seems less than ideal as well.
The team can't trade Tyrus, they've been trying to trade him for the past two seasons and haven't found any takers. The idea of flipping Tyrus into Boozer is appealing, but James + Tyrus for Boozer brings us into the luxury tax which the team is unlikely to do for a one year rental while a three team deal of Hinrich + Tyrus for Boozer hasn't been consumated and whether it's the Bulls or another team holding it up is unknown.
So the Bulls and Tyrus are stuck together. The Bulls are probably praying that someone else steps up to take Tyrus's minutes so they can cut ties with him easier and faster while Tyrus is probably dying to get out of the city and test out his fortunes on a new team.