Nothing in the NBA is guaranteed except contracts. So at least Tyrus Thomas has that in his favor. The Bobcats gave him five years at $8 million per, with the hopes that he’d stop teasing everyone and someday produce like a high lottery pick should.
But as Rick Bonnell mentioned in the Charlotte Observer, Thomas cold be in jeopardy of losing precious minutes to DJ White, a big, hungry bruiser who wasn’t blessed — cursed? — with a big contract.
White had just scored a career-high 21 points with 10-of-12 shooting. He was the one shining thing in an otherwise awful performance.(Paul) Silas was asked if it would be a “problem” finding minutes for White once Thomas returns from a sprained ankle, hopefully this week. Silas replied that if this defines a problem, it’s certainly not his problem.“He’s going to play now,” Silas said of White. “Tyrus is going to have to show that he can play better.”At 68, Silas is an old-school guy expecting players to earn their minutes. The clear message was White deserves better than to just be a place-holder for Thomas.
Thomas isn’t the only young player with something to prove this season; plenty others are on the watch list after securing the big contract. Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, Mario Chalmers, Amir Johnson, just to name a few. But he was a considerable financial commitment for the Bobcats, who shelled out money in hopes of Thomas becoming a star or at least a consistent and productive player. Instead, he has given mixed results. This is the season Michael Jordan and Silas are expecting big things from Thomas, provided he stay healthy (he has a bum ankle at the moment), because of competition from White and perhaps Bismack Biyombo, the raw rookie who likely needs a few more years of seasoning.
What the Bobcats want is to see quality from at least three or four of their young players, hoping they turn into assets that can be traded or kept. Thomas, White, Biyombo, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker are the main big-picture players who will either help the Bobcats toward respectability, or slow the process. And much of the weight falls on Thomas if only because he’s 6-foot-11 and clearly has ability.
Of course, plenty of players left the NBA with the same potential they entered with.