In a season dominated by Derrick Rose — or his ACL, at least — there were a number of times when the actual team on the floor for the Chicago Bulls felt like a total afterthought. In the case of big man Malcolm Thomas, however, afterthought sounds pretty accurate.
Full disclosure: I’m extremely high on Malcolm Thomas. You knew that if you were paying attention to the site about seven weeks ago, when I submitted an impassioned plea for more playing time for Mr. Thomas. But in case you weren’t, I’ll just say that I think he has the potential to be the poor man’s Taj Gibson, and I’d love to see him and Taj anchor the second unit together next year.
However, this season, you would be forgiven if you entirely missed his presence on the Bulls roster. He played more than about 5 minutes in a game precisely once this season — oddly enough, in the first game after my aforementioned plea — didn’t sign with the team until the end of March and would’ve spent the playoffs watching in a suit next to Mr. Rose if the entire Bulls’ team hadn’t gotten hurt simultaneously.
It could have been so much more, though. Thomas played for the Bulls’ summer league team in Las Vegas last summer and was a double-double machine. The Bulls really wanted to sign him, except for the part where they didn’t want to actually pay him. Thomas wanted a multi-year deal at slightly more than the league minimum. The Bulls countered with “yeah, no, take the one-year minimum or buzz off.” He ended up in Israel for a while before returning to the states on a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors.
Thomas will play with the Bulls’ summer league team again this year, and will almost certainly receive an invite to training camp. He should have an edge on any other big men the Bulls bring in this summer, as he knows Tom Thibodeau’s system already. But that’s next year, and this post is concerned with this year. Which means we have to give Malcolm Thomas an Incomplete and let him retake the course next year.
Final Grade: Incomplete.