Matt Thomas

Central Notes: LaVine, White, Ayton, Brogdon

Because Zach LaVine wasn’t named to any of the All-NBA teams announced this week, the Bulls will be facing a lower price for a maximum deal for the free agent guard, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. LaVine can re-sign with Chicago for up to $212.3MM over five years, while rival teams will be limited to four years at $157.4MM.

The roughly $55MM difference will work in the Bulls’ favor, but Cowley echoes several other reports suggesting that re-signing LaVine isn’t a sure thing. He lists the Lakers, Hawks and Trail Blazers as teams with interest and says more are expected to emerge as free agency draws closer.

Cowley adds “all indications” are that Bulls management plans to offer a full max deal, and it will be up to LaVine to decide whether he wants to continue his career in Chicago. If he does want to move on, Cowley expects executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to explore sign-and-trade options.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cowley’s assessment of LaVine is part of an overall look at the Bulls‘ backcourt, where the fate of Coby White is also uncertain. White will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, but Cowley believes the front office is more likely to try to trade him for outside shooting help. Cowley doesn’t expect free agent Matt Thomas to return and says the team could target TyTy Washington or Malaki Branham in the draft if either is still available at No. 18.
  • Expect the Pistons to be among the teams pursuing Suns center Deandre AytonOmari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press states in a mailbag column. Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Sankofa suggests Detroit might use Jerami Grant to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal. Grant is entering the final year of his current contract and is eligible for a four-year extension worth $112MM.
  • Evan Sidery of Basketball News looks at five potential trade destinations for Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who may no longer be in the team’s plans after the acquisition of Tyrese Haliburton. Sidery proposes potential deals involving the Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Timberwolves and Heat.

Central Notes: York, Middleton, Ball, Brown

An unexpected conversation with Kevin Durant left a huge impression on Pacers guard Gabe York, who finally reached the NBA last month after years of trying, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. York, 28, signed a two-way contract with Indiana and appeared in two games, including the season finale against the Nets.

“He comes up to me talking about, ‘Yo, I seen the struggle. I seen the journey that you went through to get here, bro, like for real, congrats. I know it’s been work,'” York said. “And just knowing that KD said that (expletive), I’m really like, ‘Wow, bro. People really watched (my journey).'”

After going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016, York spent time in Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy before joining the Pacers’ G League affiliate in Fort Wayne. He admits being nervous before his NBA debut, but that stopped once he got into the game.

“My nerves went away instantly and for whatever reason in my brain, in my mind it told itself, ‘It was like, ‘Nah, you belong here,'” York said. “It felt right. Nothing felt forced. Nothing felt too fast, too nothing. … When you’re in the G League or when you’re overseas, you just keep watching TV, keep watching the NBA and you just see stats and you see players, you think they’re bigger than what they are. And then once you get on the court with them, you’re like, ‘I played basketball for 20 years, bro.’ You need to guard me, (too).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Khris Middleton is making progress in his recovery from an MCL sprain in his left knee, but he’s not ready to start playing again, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Coach Mike Budenholzer, who expressed hope last week that Middleton might be able to return at some point during Milwaukee’s second-round series with the Celtics, told reporters today that Middleton has been able to do “a little” on the court, but there’s nothing significant to update.
  • After playing just 35 games this season, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is focused on being healthier in the future, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suffered a bone bruise, then had surgery for a torn meniscus and didn’t play after January 14.
  • The Bulls are unlikely to bring back Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas next season, but they face a more difficult decision on  Troy Brown Jr., Johnson states in a mailbag column. They have a June 29 deadline to extend a qualifying offer to Brown to make him a restricted free agent.

Latest Salary Guarantees: D. Lee, Reed, Hartenstein, Sykes, M. Thomas

Warriors swingman Damion Lee will have the rest of his 2021/22 salary guaranteed, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). The news doesn’t come as a surprise, as Lee has been with Golden State for four seasons and has been part of the regular rotation for three of those.

Lee, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, will now have his $1,910,860 cap hit for ’21/22 locked in. The Warriors are also guaranteeing Gary Payton II’s rest-of-season salary, so the team won’t have create any new openings on its 15-man roster.

Here are more updates on players who are affected by today’s salary guarantee deadline:

  • The Sixers will keep Paul Reed through the deadline, guaranteeing his salary, tweets Scotto. Reed, who is earning $1,517,981 in 2021/22, also has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season before he becomes eligible for restricted free agency in 2023. The 6’9″ forward has averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 19 games (9.4 MPG) for Philadelphia in his second NBA season.
  • Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein will have his full-season salary guaranteed, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Hartenstein, earning $1,729,217, was always one of the safer bets to survive the salary guarantee deadline, since he played a key role in L.A.’s frontcourt, putting up 7.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.3 BPG in just 16.4 MPG (29 games).
  • After recently signing a two-year contract with the Pacers, Keifer Sykes will have his rest-of-season salary guaranteed, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sykes, who made a strong impression in the G League, is off to a strong start at the NBA level too, averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG in his first five games (26.8 MPG). Since he didn’t sign until December 27, Sykes’ prorated rookie-minimum salary is worth just $558,345.
  • The Bulls will hang onto sharpshooter Matt Thomas, guaranteeing his minimum-salary contract for 2021/22, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Thomas has only appeared in 13 games for Chicago and his three-point rate (34.6%) is well below his career rate (40.5%), but the team apparently values his ability to stretch the floor. He’ll make $1,669,178 this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency. The Bulls will also have to make a decision today on Alfonzo McKinnie‘s non-guaranteed contract.

Zach LaVine, Four Other Bulls Exit COVID-19 Protocols

All the Bulls players who were in the health and safety protocols have now rejoined the team, head coach Billy Donovan said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). That group consists of Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, Matt Thomas, and Devon Dotson.

LaVine, Dosunmu, Johnson, and Thomas were all placed in the COVID-19 protocols at least 10 days ago. Dotson just entered the protocols on Tuesday, but has since tested out of them, according to Donovan (Twitter link via Johnson). That suggests that perhaps Dotson registered a false positive test earlier in the week.

It’s great news for the Bulls, who were one of the first teams to be affected by a coronavirus outbreak this month and who have had three games postponed. They’ll resume play on Sunday when they host Indiana.

The Bulls currently have three replacement players on 10-day hardship contracts. Alfonzo McKinnie signed his second 10-day deal on Monday and Ersan Ilyasova and Mac McClung inked their respective 10-day pacts on Wednesday.

While those contracts remain active for now, once all the Bulls players coming out of the protocols have been medically cleared to return to action, the team won’t be able to continue carrying those hardship signees, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). That means Ilyasova and McClung likely won’t get to play out their full 10-day contracts, and if Chicago wants to keep McKinnie around, the team would have to create room by trading or waiving someone from the 15-man roster.

Central Notes: White, DeRozan, Caruso, Carlisle, Pangos

While COVID-19 disrupts rosters across the league, the Bulls are starting to get healthier, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports. Coby White, DeMar DeRozan and Javonte Green all cleared protocols this week and are expected to play Sunday against the Lakers. Derrick Jones Jr. left the protocols today and Matt Thomas is getting close, although he remains doubtful for Sunday.

White and DeRozan both said their symptoms were mild and agreed that their main issue was “boredom” while being away from the team. White, who was the first Chicago player to enter the protocols on December 1, said his experience was no worse than strep throat and the symptoms went away in two or three days. DeRozan tested positive five days after White, learning the news after a morning shootaround.

“It was one of those things, mixture of everything,” DeRozan said. “Frustration of not being able to go out there and play, trying to figure out why I don’t feel nothing, nothing’s wrong, how long I’m going to be out. Just a mixture of a lot of emotions. But at the end of the day, I just was like, ‘I’ve got to deal with it, something I’ve got to deal with,’ and went from there.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The two Bulls games that were postponed this week provided some benefits for the team, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Alex Caruso, who has been dealing with a sore right hamstring, is now fully recovered, according to coach Billy Donovan, and some players who had been seeing heavy minutes got a chance to rest.Lonzo (Ball) kind of stands out,” Donovan said.Zach (LaVine) is in health and safety protocols, but he was a guy that was logging a lot of minutes as well. So hopefully it gives those guys an opportunity to get their bodies a chance to recover some.”
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 10 days ago, should be ready to return for Tuesday’s game, assistant Lloyd Pierce told James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Pierce has filled in for Carlisle during his four-game absence.
  • In an interview with Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype, Cavaliers guard Kevin Pangos talks about adjusting to the NBA after playing six years in Europe.

Matt Thomas Latest Bulls Player In Protocols

Guard Matt Thomas is the latest Bulls player to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). In a follow-up tweet, Schaefer notes that Thomas was in Cleveland for the matchup Wednesday against the Cavs, but will travel back to Chicago.

Thomas is expected to miss several games, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), so he likely tested positive for COVID-19, although that has not been confirmed yet. If he did test positive, Thomas will be out for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests a minimum of 24 hours apart.

Thomas is now the fourth Bulls player in the protocols, joining Coby White, Javonte Green and DeMar DeRozan. With those four sidelined, Patrick Williams out four-to-six months, and Alex Caruso out at least a week with a hamstring strain, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets that the Bulls could apply for a hardship exception in order to sign a player.

Thomas is playing on a non-guaranteed contract with the Bulls. He played 19 minutes in the team’s win over Denver on Monday, but had seen only 30 minutes of action across seven games prior to that contest. The 27-year-old holds career averages of 3.8 PPG and 1.2 RPG (8.7 MPG) across 94 games for the Raptors, Jazz, and Bulls, with a .432/.404/.808 shooting line.

The Bulls will have just 11 active players Wednesday night. Rookie Ayo Dosunmu played a team-high 41 minutes against Denver and should continue to see a heavy workload. Troy Brown also figures to see an uptick in playing time with the backcourt depth so thin at the moment.

International Notes: Ferrell, M. Thomas, Zhou, Canada

Veteran guard Yogi Ferrell, who cleared waivers today after being released by the Clippers late on Sunday night, would like to find another NBA opportunity this fall. However, he isn’t ruling out the possibility of moving overseas and playing in Europe for the first time in his career, according to Stefanos Tatsios of Eurohoops.net.

The Thunder could be an option for Ferrell if he remains stateside, per Alessandro Maggi of Sportando (Twitter link). However, Oklahoma City might not have any regular season roster spots available, so Ferrell’s best chance to get some job security and regular playing time could come overseas.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the international basketball world:

  • Before he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Chicago, sharpshooter Matt Thomas drew interest from multiple EuroLeague teams, including CSKA Moscow, according to a report from Spanish outlet Encestando (Twitter link). If Thomas doesn’t make the Bulls’ regular season roster, a return to Europe seems like a possibility — he spent two seasons in Spain from 2017-19, so he’s no stranger to international basketball.
  • Former Rockets big man Zhou Qi, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, has officially signed a two-year deal with South East Melbourne Phoenix in Australia’s National Basketball League, the team announced in a press release. Zhou, who appeared in just 19 total games with Houston across two seasons in 2017-18, got a second-year player option on his new contract.
  • Veteran basketball executive Glen Grunwald, who had stints with Denver, Toronto, and New York, is retiring as president and CEO of Canada Basketball, per a press release. Michael Bartlett will succeed Grunwald, who will remain involved with Canada Basketball in a part-time advisory role through the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Bulls Sign Matt Thomas

The Bulls have signed free agent sharpshooter Matt Thomas to a contract, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. The signing occurred on Saturday, per RealGM.

Thomas, who signed a multiyear deal with the Raptors in 2019 following an impressive stint overseas, spent a year-and-a-half with Toronto before being sent to Utah at the 2021 deadline. In total, he appeared in 86 games for the Raptors and Jazz, averaging 4.0 PPG in 8.9 minutes per contest.

Thomas is known for his ability to knock down three-point shots. He made 41.3% of his long-distance attempts during his two NBA seasons after making 48.1% for Valencia Basket during his last year in Europe in 2018/19.

While the specific details of Thomas’ deal aren’t known, RealGM classifies it as a one-year contract. And since it doesn’t show up NBA.com’s transactions log – which doesn’t list non-guaranteed signings – it’s probably safe to assume it’s not guaranteed.

Since Chicago has been carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, Thomas could get an opportunity to compete for a regular season roster spot. Stanley Johnson, another former Raptor who reached a deal with the Bulls today, also figures to be in the mix for a roster spot — it’s unclear whether or not Johnson’s salary will be guaranteed.

Jazz Waive Matt Thomas

The Jazz have waived second-year wing Matt Thomas, the team announced on its website today. Thomas appeared in a total of 45 games with the Raptors and Jazz during the 2020/21 season.

Utah, having acquired Thomas from Toronto in exchange for a future second-round pick in March, chose not to guarantee his $1.78MM salary for next season.

The 26-year-old shooting guard averaged 3.1 PPG and 1.0 RPG with a .338 3PT% in 45 total games (7.2 MPG) with the Raptors and Jazz this season.

Thomas went undrafted in 2017 after spending four seasons at Iowa State. He then latched on with the Lakers’ summer league team one month later, spending the following two years overseas.

Jazz Acquire Matt Thomas From Raptors

MARCH 26: The trade is official, according to a press release from the Raptors.


MARCH 25: The Raptors are trading guard Matt Thomas to the Jazz for a future second-round pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The pick will be the Warriors’ 2021 second-rounder that was owed to Utah, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Thomas provides the Jazz with another shooter off the bench. Thomas, 26, made his NBA debut last season, appearing in 41 games and averaging 4.9 PPG in 10.7 MPG. He’s appeared in 26 games this season, averaging 2.7 PPG in 7.4 MPG. However, the 6’4” Thomas has knocked down 45.7% of his 3-point attempts over the last two seasons.

Thomas is making approximately $1.52MM. The Jazz will have to decide by the start of free agency whether to guarantee his $1.78MM salary next season.

Utah will use a $3,542,060 traded player exception to absorb Thomas’ salary, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. The Jazz had an open roster spot.

Toronto will generate a $1.5MM TPE through this transaction. The Raptors also open up a roster spot, which they may need if they deal Kyle Lowry by the trade deadline.