Lance Thomas grateful to re-sign with Pelicans, stay in New Orleans

Lance Thomas grateful to re-sign with Pelicans, stay in New Orleans

September 3, 2013

When Lance Thomas learned that he was being waived by the Pelicans on July 10, it was a difficult piece of news for a player who’s had to scratch and claw his way into the NBA since going undrafted in 2010. Beyond the obvious basketball reasons, however, Thomas had additional motivation to want to stay with the Pelicans: He’s become a year-round New Orleans resident.

That partly explains why the 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward was thrilled to be able to re-sign with New Orleans on Aug. 22, after a six-week stretch of being a free agent. The Duke University product and 2010 NCAA national champion has appeared in 101 games for New Orleans in his first two NBA seasons, including making 19 starts. He spent the 2010-11 season with Austin of the D-League.

“When (being waived) happened, it was a little discouraging, but at the end of the day, I’m playing a game that I love to play,” said Thomas, who lives downtown, not far from the French Quarter. “I can’t complain. Not many people wake up every day living their dream job. So I’m just really blessed and I’m very happy to be back here. I feel like this is where I belong. I love the city and I love the organization. For me to be here is a blessing.”

Lance Thomas grateful to re-sign with Pelicans, stay in New Orleans “Lance is a guy who’s always fighting for a spot,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “He’s gotten better from the time we signed him to now. It’s almost night and day. He’s gotten better, increasingly more and more each year, because he’s diligent and a tough guy. Our fans, they can root for a guy like that. He came from the D-League and found a niche by working his butt off.”

The initial July 10 roster move happened while Thomas was competing with New Orleans’ summer league team in Las Vegas. Due to the NBA waiver process, he was forced to sit out one game, before returning to action July 14 vs. Milwaukee. Though Thomas received positive words of encouragement from friends after being waived, he said the transaction never affected his perspective.

“I wasn’t too aware of the details,” Thomas said of the reasoning behind being waived. “But it’s not going to change my approach regardless. Even if that didn’t happen, my level of intensity was still going to be the same. I only know one way to work, and that’s hard. The formula doesn’t change. Regardless of whether I was signed or not signed, I’m going to continue to push myself and do whatever I can to help the squad.”

Even before he was officially back in the fold with the Pelicans, the New York City native had been working on his game in New Orleans throughout the summer at the Alario Center. He’s looking forward to continuing his gym time in the Pelicans’ brand-new Metairie practice facility, along with a large group of teammates who are in town for voluntary workouts.

“We’re pushing each other, which is great,” Thomas said. “It’s been great to see this many guys here trying to get better. I don’t think many teams in the league are doing this right now. We’re definitely setting the stage for how hard we want to work once training camp hits. I love the fact that this is a ‘work team’ year-round. You can always go in the gym and be around guys trying to improve. And that’s how I am.”

On off days, Thomas has continued to enjoy being a full-time New Orleans resident, including some of the perks that are specific to this area.

“I love it here – the gym’s available 24 hours a day, and I love to fish,” Thomas said, smiling. “It’s a win-win for me. I get to work on my craft every day, then I get to relax on the water. In the past two years, I’ve probably only been home (to New York) for a total of maybe three or four weeks.

“I love this city, the food and how nice people are. I’m happy to be re-signed.”