TUESDAY, 12:33pm: The Iowa Energy, the D-League affiliate of the Grizzlies, has claimed Thomas, sources tell Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The club has yet to make an official announcement. Thomas will remain free to sign with any NBA team no matter the D-League club he plays for.
FRIDAY, 6:11pm: Former lottery pick Tyrus Thomas is set to enter the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports (Twitter link). Thomas has been out of the NBA since the Hornets (then the Bobcats) put him on amnesty waivers back in July of 2013. The 28-year-old will go through the D-League’s waiver process to determine which team he will play for. The 6’10” forward out of LSU is trying to work his way back to the NBA, and had reportedly worked out for the Grizzlies and the Lakers back in November, but failed to generate a contract offer from either franchise.
Thomas has gone through some tough times since he was last in the NBA, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. In addition to losing his job in the league, Thomas also went through a divorce and what could have been a career-ending surgery to remove a cyst from his back, Kennedy notes. “I can’t begin to tell you what was going through my mind,” Thomas told Kennedy. “It all felt overwhelming – being released, going through a divorce and then the injury that led to me ultimately having to have surgery. I would wake up, pick my basketball up off the floor, bounce it around the house and say, ‘I want to play. I have something to prove to everyone who believed in me. I have something to prove to myself. I can do this. Then, I’d wake up the next day not feeling good physically and I’d think, ‘This surgery isn’t worth it.’ I had good days and I had bad days.”
The big man had his share of maturity issues during his career, something that he is eager to show is behind him, Kennedy writes. “I was 19 years old when I first entered the NBA; it’s no excuse and I’ve owned my mistakes, but whew have I grown a lot,” Thomas said. “Over the last two years, I’ve grown not only as a player but as a person. I now realize the opportunities that, at times, I took for granted. I look back now and I was just a poor kid from South Baton Rouge. I didn’t understand then what I understand now. Everything happened at once: getting amnestied, going through a divorce and making the decision if I wanted to come back and play basketball because of the severity of the surgery. Going through all of that, I definitely grew up.”
In 400 career games, Thomas has averaged 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. His career slash line is .438/.235/.732.