Thomas Sees Opportunity With Young Sixers

by Max Rappaport
Sixers.com Writer
@MaxRappaport

There were times when Malcolm Thomas didn’t think the call would ever come.

Every summer since going undrafted out of San Diego State in 2011, the 6’9” forward has returned to the coastal city to train and wait for his next opportunity to show that he belongs in the NBA.

Thomas’ professional career began in South Korea, where he played for Mobis Phoebus of the Korean Basketball League during the tail end of the NBA Lockout in the fall of 2011. In December of that year, he left Korea to join the Los Angeles Lakers as a member of their preseason roster but was released by the team when rosters were cut down from 20 to 15. Since then, he’s juggled between nine teams – NBA, NBDL, and international – while searching for a permanent home.

The 25-year-old had agreed in principle to a deal to play in China this season, but on Saturday, just days before he was set to depart the United States, he received a call from the Sixers.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen,” Thomas said. “I feel like I’ve been working for it this whole time, and it’s just never happened. Now that it has, I just want to take full advantage.” 

Thomas and Sixers head coach Brett Brown have a brief history together. The young forward signed with the San Antonio Spurs in January of 2012, while Brown was still an assistant under Gregg Popovich. After appearing in three games with San Antonio, he was assigned to the team’s Development League affiliate, the Austin Toros, but was waived shortly after.

With the Spurs, a veteran team with an established rotation, Thomas’ development took a backseat, but with the Sixers, Brown hopes to give the 25-year-old forward the playing time he needs to mature.

“He’s got a chance – really his first chance, in my opinion – to [get] minutes and [have] a role,” Brown said. “He sees we’ve got a bunch of young guys he’s competing with, and he probably sees a lot more daylight then he may have with Utah, the Spurs, or Chicago.”

With the Sixers’ regular season set to begin in just two days, Thomas knows he’ll be playing catch-up.

“All I keep thinking about is trying to remember the plays,” he said. “It’s a great coaching staff, great players here. Everyone’s helping me, so I’ll figure it out.”

Sixers Complete Trade

One hour prior to the NBA’s deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 15, the Sixers completed a trade that sent forward Arnett Moultrie to the Knicks in exchange for New York’s 2019 second-round pick, the right to swap the Los Angeles Clippers' second-round pick (which the Sixers currently own) in 2018 with the Knicks' own second-round pick in that draft, and forward Travis Outlaw.

With the subtraction of Moultrie, who was the team’s longest-tenured player, Jason Richardson becomes the only player on the roster acquired prior to the 2013 NBA Draft.

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