Free agent profile: Kurt Thomas
This is the 33rd post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes particular players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
Chicago Bulls center Kurt Thomas
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: As mentioned before in previous free agent profiles examining the center position, this isn't the Lakers' main offseason priority. But if anything about last season taught us, the Lakers need a solid backup center who can deliver 10 minutes per game if needed in case Andrew Bynum gets hurt (inevitable), Pau Gasol gets fatigued (possible) or a combination of both. Even with Thomas' limited skill set, he offers a few things that would help the Lakers.
He's an enforcer type that's willing to throw the likes of Glen Davis to the floor, something that Andrew Bynum only does when he loses his cool and Gasol avoids altogether. Thomas can bolster the team's defensive rebounding, averaging a 6.9 boards per game in 25.5 minutes per game, which is close to the 5.7 rebounds he averaged in 22.7 minutes last season with Chicago. Consider that Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person recently revealed that the biggest weakness in the Lakers' defense last season pointed to their defensive rebounding, giving some reason for the Lakers to covet Thomas.
Negatives: There's no use really dissecting Thomas' limited offensive skills because the main concern frankly deals with Thomas' age. The Lakers are getting old. They need speed, athleticism and youth. So yes, it makes zero sense for the Lakers to sign Thomas. After, all at age, 39, Thomas became the NBA's oldest player after Shaquille O'Neal's retirement. The Lakers tried that experiment already last season by signing 37-year-old Theo Ratliff and the work he provided was the one he assigned to the Lakers medical training staff when he needed surgery on his left knee only eight games into the season. With the Lakers entering a possibly lockout shortened season, signing Thomas would be risky because older players tend to take longer returning to peak conditioning.
Verdict: With the talk centering about the team needing to inject youth, this move by no means addressing. It's not a horrible move. But it's not a great move. If the Lakers sign Thomas to a veteran's minimum, he'll be worth the price.
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Photo: Kurt Thomas #40 of the Chicago Bulls reacts after he made a shot in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images