What to do with Tyrus Thomas?

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.


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  • I think TT is still our best PF and thats the reason he will get to be the starter. But I can see him getting his minutes cut and really getting frustrated. I think the team will invest sometime in developing JJ and that will really cut into his time.

  • You have to resign TT. The dude has made progress. He knows his jumper and skill level has to hit the upper ceiling. I trust he will do that. He started to take that shot inside the painted area and it looked good. I want some more of that.

  • Tyrus Breakout Year, Too Late

    As your article shows, even if Tyrus has a great year, he won't be a Bull the year after.

    If the Tyrus and Hinrich 3way trade for Boozer is viable, why not Tyrus and Hinrich for David Lee?

    The Bulls hope for 2010 is drafting the "magical answer" to their power forward problems. I personally like the healthy Bosh over Amare Stodamire and no thanks to LeBron (too expensive) or Wade (will diminish Rose's backcourt effectiveness).

    But let's say the probability of getting the healthy Bosh is 50%. What's the probability of getting the ironman David Lee right now? Perhaps 80-90%? I'd like to see David Lee at power forward for several years for the Bulls rather than take a 50/50 chance of getting someone a little better in Bosh.

    Tyrus will have an unpleasant season and won't breakout this year. I hope the Chicago Bulls are familiar with probability theory.

    An 85% chance of getting David Lee for 2009 is better than a 50% chance of getting Bosh in 2010. Poor Tyrus Thomas is in the Ben Gordon holding pattern of last year. Only Ben Gordon had fun doing it while Tyrus won't.

    (Doug, do you actually make money blogging about the Bulls? Thanks for your blog.)

  • I expect Tyrus to be given every opportunity to succeed in Chicago this year to make him an acceptable consolation prize in a sign and trade for a bigname FA. I think Tyrus is about to break out in the next year or 2 but without much of an inside game he's not a good match with Noah... one of them have to be able to take advantages of their size in the low post for this team to be as diverse as it needs to be to make long runs in the playoffs.

  • Source: Forman, Chapman, O

  • Doug,

    Once again, probability theory.

    If getting David Lee is an 85% probability if Bulls
    try to get him versus the 50% chance of getting Bosh,
    I'll take the 85 % probability times David Lee's

    At a bar, you see 3 good looking gals. One is
    incredibly pretty and everyone's hitting on her.
    She's used to it, and your chance of dating her is
    low. Her girlfriends are good lookers, just not
    outrageously attractive. You can date one of the
    good looking gals tonite, but you'll get awful lonesome
    trying to date the queen. Probability theory.

  • I just lost all basketball respect for you Doug. I can't believe you just made the suggestion that Hinrich is a good fit going forward, as to say Ty.Thomas isn't. Hinrich stats will never reach Tyrus Thomas heights. Hinrich shouldn't even see minutes at the two. I hate guys like him and Battier that get recognition off playing man-to-man defense because it's so overrated. Hinrich worth 5 million to me. He does everything in a intangible manner.

  • In reply to Simeon2UC:

    Go cheer for the Suns, Knicks, or Warriors if you're so against defense.

    I agree having a lot of good team defenders is important, but you need that one great lock down perimeter defender who can take a guy like Kobe or Lebron off the game plan. And you need one big who just owns the paint.

  • In reply to Simeon2UC:

    Chemistry guys, glue guys, intangible guys are vastly underated by the average sportscenter watching fan, and are far more valuable to a championship calibre team than empty stat sheet stuffers. You need superstars and role players who know their role and willingly play thier role.

  • Tyrus Thomas needs to find his jumper next year. That game when he kept shooting against Boston made him look like crap in a alley. I think he will find it. I love his release and his form but the ball wasn't falling. Most guys with his wingspan can't shoot with a consistent form. Rasheed mastered it but AK-47 never did. I think Bulls have to resign Tyrus Thomas if they don't trade him for Boozer. He showed flashes of passing, shooting in the painted area while raising high, dunking, and blocking/stealing help-side. The only part about his game is he can't create his on. That sucks for a guy with his raw talent. Hinrich just sucks. I saw a guy in the alley playing like he was Kirk - I didn't get it.

  • I don't think it would take $12 million a year to sign David Lee. It's like when people were saying Gordon wanted $15 million a year last summer, but he ended up agreeing to $9 million a year.

    I think David Lee would probably sign a longterm deal for the tune of $8-9 million when push comes to shove, if it is available towards the end of free agency.

    Hard to argue with paying essentially a 16/12 guy that kind of money.

  • Doug,

    Actually, I wouldn't pay a dime for
    David Lee. That's Reinsdorf's job.
    The trade would only go through if
    it's revenue neutral. Jerry Reinsdorf
    was a tax accountant for the IRS years
    ago. He won't do any trade unless
    it's neutral. Bulls would need to
    bundle Tyrus and some other person (not
    Hinrich) to equal David Lee's salary.

    For the last time, let's discuss pro-
    bability theory.

    We're talking an 85% chance of acquiring
    a power forward that had 55 double
    doubles last year. I bet the chance of
    getting Chris Bosh in 2010 is 50% at

    Perhaps like you, the Chicago Bulls would
    rather get rejected by the prettiest girl
    at the bar in 2010 and hold their breath
    until then. As for me, I'd rather have
    a really good chance of getting the 2nd
    best looking gal at the bar then striking
    out again and again.

    If we get Chris Bosh in 2010 I'll buy you
    a beer and we'll both celebrate. If we
    get Amare Stoudamire that could be fun
    too. Too many Chicago Bulls fans think
    Jerry Reinsdorf will throw money around
    in 2010 because he has salary cap space.

    Reinsdorf's teams have won 6 NBA
    championships and 1 World Series. For
    him, the "art" is in winning cost
    effective championships. Anyone can
    buy championships. It's takes real
    talent make a profit and still win

  • Two things: I disagree with the premise that Tyrus is not a good fit with Noah--as if Noah is someone that we should "fit" players around. Tyrus had a better season than Noah did but struggled against a specfic team in the Celtics because of matchup problems. Further, it's absolutely false that Tyrus "doesn't fit well" with Noah and isn't really the point anyway. The person Tyrus has to be compatible with is NOT Noah--it's Derrick. And, he's very close to being the perfect compliment for Derrick: AN athletic big who is quick, can run the floor and hit an open jump shot. All he needs to do is hit the open jumper more consistently--which I might add is FAR better than Noah's. If anyone is incompatible it's Noah because he clogs the lane--the place where Derrick lives. The Bulls need a big guy who can hit an outside shot--that isn't Noah but it could definitely be Tyrus.

    As it concerns the fantasy FAs like Lebron, of course we'd take Lebron--that's a non starter. The question is: Who thinks Lebron's coming here besides you? Further, if we resign Tyrus it doesn't mean the offseason was a failure. That's presumptious at best and doesn't take into account the Bulls upcoming season's success. E.G, what it could mean is Tyrus made big steps over the season--which we fully expect.

    It sounds to me that you've already decided Tyrus' fate even before the first game. You've decided that the course of action is go all out for a FA next season in an all or bust scenario. I just think it's too far out to make such decisions and too risky. If we do get the opportunity to sign Wade, I'm sure it won't take much to cut salary without giving up a PF we will need in Tyrus. The guy to dump in that scenario wouldn't be Tyrus---it would be Salmons. How hard you think that would be?

  • Exactly right Simeon2UC and Scooter. Not sure where or why we have decided that Noah is a superstar building block that we have to build the team around. He is an average player who seemingly plays better in the post season, but he is still a weak rebounder with no offensive game. The formula for more success, similar to Utah where they have Boozer and Okur, two bigs who can hit shots from the elbow and beyond. That opens the lane for D-Will and others to drive and get layups. Those are the high percentage shots. Boozer and Brad Miller could do the same for D-Rose and for Tyrus. Noah just clogs the middle because thats where his defender is. No point in his defender going outside. As for signing free agents, Tyrus won't prevent that, but Deng and Kirk might unless there is a deadline trade come February where we can send one or both of them away. As for Tyrus, he needs to play under control more and most importantly, he needs to learn to play left handed. If he could dribble penetrate with his left hand, block shots (keeping them inbounds) left handed, and score a little bit left handed, he could become a star caliber player, which I expect him to.

  • In reply to preston:

    A weak rebounder who averaged 13 rebounds a game against the Celtics, and is our only active rebounder. Thomas is a passive rebounder. Noah will never be a star, but he should become a top 10 center this season, and centers seem to becoming role players more and more. The truly dominant ones are a dissappearing breed.

  • In reply to preston:

    Tyrus is not someone who will lead the Bulls to the promised land. They need post offense and thats a simple fact.

    A few years ago I did a study on what it takes to win an NBA championship. My conclusion was that it takes an All-Star Center, Michael Jordan, or an extremely weak league.

    My conclusions came down to. The old adage before Jordan was that you needed a guy in the middle to win a championship. And before Jordan, that was true. Only one team won a championship without an All-Star center from 1947-1990. And that was the 1975 Golden State Warriors who won with Clifford Ray, who was a good center, but not an All-Star that year. It wasnt until Jordan came around that that changed.

    After Jordan left though the theory always went back into play. Olajuwon, Duncan, Shaq. They all got titles being an All-Star center. Even Ben Wallace was an All-Star the year they won the title.

    The 2008 Celtics played with this theory though. 3 All-Star players, 2 likely to be in the hall-of-fame, maybe all 3, took the Celtics to a championship. Granted Kevin Garnett is 6'11, and may have been playing center back in the earlier years of the league, but it stands that KG is a prototypical PF.

    Its also known that many tall players are becoming more rounded and playing away from the basket. Duncan came into the league as a center, but has started at PF for several years, though I still consider him a center for the most part. Even Gasol, who came into the league as a center, was starting at PF for the Lakers in the Finals this season.

    I agree that the center is a dying breed and in the future you may see more teams win without All-Star centers, but if Greg Oden ever gets going, expect Portland to be in the Finals plenty of times. I expect Orlando to return as well with Dwight Howard dominating the east.

    So to me, the Bulls either have to try to recreate Jordan 2.0, which to me is LeBron James and LeBron James only, or they need to find some post offense. To me, they wont be getting Dwight Howard or LeBron James any time soon, so their next best options is to go for someone like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. I think Noah is a formible center to have there and can easily be a top 10 center in this league. He may neer reach All-Star status, but paired with a offensive PF, he could benefit greatly from that. With Tyrus there really is no benefit. People wonder why Ben Wallace never worked out here, its cause he had no offense to pair with him in the paint like he did in Detroit.

  • To begin with Der Fuhrer(that would be Matt at DBagaBull) suffers from a raging case of Ben Gordon derangement syndrome. The visceral hate for the Bulls organization as a result of not retaining that certain unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer(Gordon), and single most important player in Bulls history not named Jordan is absolutely stupefying. The snarky condecension on that site massively overwhelms any informational value that it might provide.

    So you have to take anything said over there with a grain of salt the size of the moon.

    I believe that the Bulls have acted prudently and with rational analysis can't disagree with any move that they have made since acquiring Rose. Giving Thomas this last chance to put it together as a Bull is the best move at this time.

    I personally, dont believe that he will ever get "it", but we aren't going anywhere without the 2010 plan working, so keeping Tyrus until at least the trade deadline is a better move than making a trade just to make a trade.

    Deng producing at a rate commensurate with his contract, and Thomas getting "it" are to 2 biggest question marks/risks going into this season, but risks we have no choice to take.

    As for your thought that Tyrus is already a goner and that the primary reasons are that he doesn't fit well with Noah, and Reinsforf doesn't like him. You could very well be correct. Reinsdorf as the owner has every right to like or not like any player that he chooses to. There are almost certainly a miriad of behind the scenes reasons that none of us are able to access. I don't think that Gordon ever endeared himself to any single member of the Bulls coaching staffs in his entire career, or teamate for that matter.

    The answer is the same for both issues. If Tyrus were to accept and dedicate himself to being a Dennis Rodman/Horace Grant type player, then he would become a keeper, and a fit with Noah.

    A Rose, Noah, and Thomas grouping(if Thomas embraces his inner Rodman) is better than any of the groupings that we paired with Jordan and Pippen in any of the 3 peats.

    Those teams had no true point guards, and offensively challenged big man duos(Cartwright/Grant) and (Longley/Rodman).

    Bosh is not the answer to the Bulls championship aspirations, improving their wings is. Who are the 2 best free agents by a mile, Lebron and Wade and they play what positions? Gordon and Deng as your Jordan and Pippen was/is the problem.

    Trading Thomas for a one year rental carries more risk than reward. There is no need for panic, things are going to be crazy starting this January. We have positioned ourselves to be a major player and have mutiple options and assets.

    If we don't get either Lebron or Wade, or both, we will never beat any teams led by Lebron, Wade or even D Howard for that matter. That is the absolute lesson of the Jordan years. The Transcendant player trumps all other combinations, that is why Barkley, Ewing, Malone, Stockton, Drexler and so many others retired ringless. Even Olajawon might not have got his if Jordan didn't take a vacation.

    Bottom line, I am more than happy to watch a 3 forward rotation of Deng, Thomas and Johnson this season, as well as a Rose, Salmons and Hinrich 3 guard rotation. We were a nearly unwatchable team for most all of last season until the trade deadline. I expect the Bulls to be eminently watchable this season, if not necessarily championship material.

  • Precisely why we need to keep Thomas now, and hope and pray that he develops enough to become an asset. It may take a miracle, but it is our best hope nonetheless. We will need to make at least one S$T to make the 2010 plan work, and maybe we do 2. You need assets as well as cap space.

  • I totally agree with your assesment of both Tyrus and Noah. However, maybe I'm too much of a gambler, I'm going for that 5% rather than renting Boozer for a year. Boozer has 0% chance of being a trade asset next summer, or at the trade deadline.

  • True, and we are likely never getting a superstar center. So like I said, Amare and Bosh are our next best bets. I for one am not that big on Amare and Bosh doesnt really play the post, hes more of an outside player, but has that superstar potential in him (Is currently an All-Star obviously).

    Alot of people suggest Wade, but to me that still takes us nowhere unless we get a PF that can score, plus theres no guarantee that Wade and Rose can co-exist with each other, then again thats true for anyone that may come our way.

  • Scoot26, interesting info, but I wonder, and maybe you know the answer here. Your study went back well before the 3 point line. The 3 point line makes a 33% gunner, 10 of 30; into a 50% shooter, 30 points on 30 shots. Also, the triangle offense made post-up players of Jordan and Pippen occasionally. My question is did you study points scored from any and all post players, whether or not the player was a center, or did your study only consider centers?

  • In reply to preston:

    I have always held this same view myself. Nobody shoots 50% from the field anymore, except the dunkers, so it seems to be a good trade off.

    However, everybody connected with the NBA seems to think that a 33% 3 point shooter should stop shooting. They seem to think that you need to get into the high 30's and low 40's before it is worth it.

    Even as a fan, if a guy went 3 for 9 from 3 I would probably wonder why he doesn't stop taking 3's.

    A paradox, indeed.

  • Getting Rose was pure luck.

    Signing Lebron and/or Wade will be planned/effort luck.

    Some of it happening is up to us, what we do and have done to be ready for 2010. And obviously, how agressively, intelligently and creatively we "attack" 2010 free agency.

    and I mean ATTACK. We can make our odds of getting Lebron and/or Wade far greater than 1.7%(the Bulls odds of winning the lottery).

    For some unexplainable reason, I have a gut belief that the Bulls will surprise us in a BigWay over the next 13 months.

  • Doug, here is a question that you might want to work into a post.

    Would you rather have the pure cap space to sign a max free agent, or even 2 max guys if you strip the whole team down.

    Or would you rather have some cap space, maybe even up to one max free agent and several players just good enough to qualify as assets in a sign and trade.

    This is where the Bulls are now. $10-$15 million in cap space, depending, and numerous substantial assets(Deng, Hinrich and maybe Thomas) as well as several lesser assets(by contract at least, Noah, Salmons, and Johnson maybe).

    I don't know how much leverage a departing free agent has over his existing team to "force" a sign and trade, however, from past history they do seem to have quite a bit, once they make it clear that they are gone no matter what.

    I believe that the Bulls as currently structured have just enough cap space and just enough substantial assets(by contract value) to arrange for both Lebron and Wade to join the Bulls as a pair, should they desire to do so.

    Would Cleveland and Miami prefer to let their guys walk for nothing or would they be "forced' to work out something with the Bulls to get some NBA starting caliber talent back.

    Would they take Deng, Hinrich, Thomas or even Salmons, or would they prefer nothing but cap space. We keep Noah the rookies and Rose of course, and we just add a mid level guy every year or 2 and we would be set for a major run.

    IF they(Cleveland/Miami) choose cap space then they have to be able to sign 2 not just 1 of the remaining top free agents, not very likely at that point. So maybe Deng and one of the remaining guys(say Bosh) might be the better move.

    Anyway hope you get the gist of my question/argument.

    Since we are now officially in the dog days of summer, even if summer never made it to Chicago, perhaps you can create a post and start a discussion over this.


  • That is my perspective, and why I think that the Bulls have positioned themselves very well going into this free agent bonanza.

    It still doesn't guarantee a thing, but you have to put down a bet to hit the jackpot.

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