Remember Tyrus Thomas? He’s back. Well, sort of.
Thomas’ first go around in the NBA was less than ideal. The fourth pick in the 2006 draft found himself out of the NBA soon after his 26th birthday when the Charlotte Bobcats, following a disastrous 21-and-61 season, exercised their amnesty provision. Although the move helped the franchise land Al Jefferson — a big reason for their turnaround last season — they are still paying the cost for cutting him when they did. With two years and $19 million remaining on Thomas’ contract, he’s on the books until the end of the 2014-2015 season.
In an interview with Basketball Insiders, Thomas admitted that the years following were some of the darkest of his life. Once clearing waivers, Thomas took a needed break from basketball to focus on his personal life. He went through a divorce and received back surgery to remove a cyst — an injury that nearly closed the book on his basketball career. Now, though, with Thomas’ soon-to-be-expired contract looming in the shadows, he has dedicated himself to pursue a second opportunity in the NBA.
To make that happen, the 6-foot-9 forward is heading to the NBA Development League to play for the Iowa Energy, the single affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies.
While the Energy’s 9-and-10 record finds them at the bottom of the Central Division standings, Thomas joins a veteran-heavy team. Damien Wilkins has asserted himself as one of the D-League’s elite scorers this season after nine years of service in the NBA. His 23.3 points per contest rank fourth behind only Seth Curry, Quincy Miller and Brady Heslip. Kalin Lucas has been on the NBA radar since leaving Michigan State in 2011, seemingly biding his time until someone eventually comes knocking on his door. Rounding out the trio is Diante Garrett, who is looking to return to the NBA after dipping his feet in its deep, murky waters over the course of two brief seasons.
Thomas couldn’t be in a better situation to prove himself worthy of a second opportunity. With Hassan Whiteside bolting to Miami after only three games with the Energy, there’s a big void left to fill in the front court, one that now has Thomas’ name written all over it in bold lettering. He has the supporting cast to compliment him on both ends of the court and a clean slate to focus entirely on basketball. The Energy need him, and he needs the Energy.
Everyone isn’t given second chances, and I have a legitimate second chance. I can’t let this opportunity slip away — Tyrus Thomas
Tyrus Thomas Determined To Resume Career | Basketball Insiders
The defensive tenacity and springboard-like leaping ability that had Thomas so highly regarded coming out of college will once again be greeted with open arms. Only now, there are no expectations. It’s just him and basketball. And time will tell if father time has been the cure for his development.