The former Knick has been in the league for almost a decade and, like his new comer and gray beard Jamal Crawford, can bring wisdom to his young teammates.
“Great veteran presence,” Jarrett Allen said of Thomas after Saturday practice, via Zoom. “Coming in to all of our older guys – I hope they’re getting better – they all got a coronavirus, and we’re stuck with a younger team. But now that these older guys can guide us and show us the ropes, I think it helps us a lot. ”
Thomas, 32, is delighted to have the opportunity. The defensive-minded forward spent training camp with the Nets, but was lifted on October 18. No one has recovered it after four seasons with the Knicks. He stayed mostly at home in his New York apartment due to the virus until June, but stayed in shape and recently worked at the NBAPA gymnasium.
Once the Nets started to pull back, a need arose. He was signed on Tuesday as Michael Beasley’s replacement and trained for the first time on Saturday.
“It was great to come out of quarantine,” he said. “Sitting in the room for about six to seven days, I couldn’t wait to get back to the field. I re-acclimated with the guys and I was excited for the opportunity. ”
Although Thomas hasn’t played in a while, he has an advantage having spent training camp with the Nets. Still, there are adjustments to be made, and he needs to get back to his basketball form. Still, he doesn’t think it will take him too long, considering basketball is his life, saying there’s a lot of muscle memory.
Me, personally, I’m just going to be tenacious, ”Thomas said. “Doing open shots, doing whatever the team needs me to do, probably keeping the best player on the other team, doing things that got me into the league, things I love to do. … I play the hand that gives me. I think that as a player who has been in the league you learn to adapt quickly to any situation. Again, I am ready for whatever comes my way. ”
Interim coach Jacque Vaughn said on his first day that Thomas mostly does one-on-one work. But he expects him to be an important part of the squad.
“He’ll fit into the squad, be able to play multiple positions, which we need,” Vaughn said.
During training, Vaughn showed his players a video commemorating the life of congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died Friday at the age of 80 of pancreatic cancer. Vaughn told them he was one of five on his wishlist for dinner.
“Speaking on behalf of the organization, we are extremely pleased that we can simply enlighten and educate our guys about a human being who has dedicated much of his life to others and to the social well-being of all humans” , did he declare. “A great time to lean towards gratitude and joy in our lives and to commemorate a guy who has represented many human beings.”
The Nets recruited goalkeeper / forward Justin Anderson on Saturday as a replacement for the rest of the season, occupying their last available spot.