By Brad Faye, Suns.com
Posted: March 3, 2006
With a Pacific Division title and another 50-plus win season in their sights, it came as little surprise that the Phoenix Suns made no last-second moves at last week’s trading deadline. But when the opportunity arrived just a week later to sign a free agent in the form of a 6-10 power forward with the ability to shoot from the outside, even the Suns couldn’t resist inking Tim Thomas to a deal.
The eight-year NBA veteran is the newest addition to the Suns and is expected to be in uniform tonight when Phoenix takes on Orlando at the US Airways Center. While his minutes are still a question mark, what isn’t in doubt is his potential when it comes to making a great addition to this ballclub.
“The situation is just perfect,” the 29-year-old Thomas said. “Not having played all season will make it difficult to get into game shape, but I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill work, bike work, shooting; whatever I can to stay in the best shape and I think I’ll be ready.”
A career 44-percent shooter with an 11.9 career scoring average, Thomas became a free agent after the Bulls waived him on Thursday night. Traded to Chicago from New York during the offseason, Thomas just never appeared to fit in with the Bulls’ youth movement.
“They have a core of young guys they really like,” Thomas said. “Their focus is on getting those guys time and making them better.”
Those who have played with the big man say that while it might be difficult for the forward to keep up with the Suns run-and-gun offense in the beginning, it will only be a matter of time until Phoenix fans see why he was a perfect acquisition.
“Tim is a great teammate and an incredible talent,” said Thomas’ former Bucks teammate Michael Redd. “I think Tim would be an excellent fit for this offense. Like Boris Diaw, he can hurt you from a number of positions.”
Suns center Kurt Thomas can once again call Tim a teammate. Playing two seasons together with the Knicks a few years back, Kurt knows what Tim is capable of when it comes to helping the Suns this season.
“Tim’s a great guy both on and off the floor,” the injured center said. “On the floor, he has the ability to put the ball in the hole from anywhere on the court and off the floor, he’s just a great guy to be around just like all the other guys here. To get a guy who can both post up inside and be effective outside is huge. He has tremendous range and I think his ability to stretch defenses is going to be big for us down the stretch.”
Suns radio analyst and former Tim Thomas teammate Vinny Del Negro played alongside the forward from 1999-2000 and has had the chance to watch him grow as both a player and a person.
“I had the opportunity to play two years with Tim in Milwaukee,” Del Negro said. “He’s 6-10, very talented, very good at either taking guys off the dribble or posting them up down low. The question now is how long it takes to get him in the condition to play the type of style we want to play, getting up and down the court.”
That question should be answered shortly and positively, according to the new Suns forward.
“I think it will probably take me a week, week and a half to get into basketball shape, but I’ll be fine,” Thomas said. “Playing in an offense like this one is perfect for me because it allows me to utilize all my skills and that’s what you look forward to as a basketball player.”
Thomas’ new teammates believe the veteran will pose no threat to hurting the Suns chemistry, but rather improve it.
“I think it’s a great move,” said point guard Steve Nash on the signing. “He’s a versatile player, very skilled and he fits in perfectly with what we’re trying to do.”
Being a part of a Suns bench that includes the likes of Leandro Barbosa and Eddie House, the runner-up for the 2001 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award says he will be happy with whatever role is given to him in Phoenix.
“I’m just looking forward to helping this team any way I can,” Thomas said. “I think I’m in a prime situation being with a team that runs their offense the way the Suns do. So whether it be playing the center or not I just want to do whatever it takes to win basketball games.”