Bobcats F Thomas not producing, not playing

When the Charlotte Bobcats invested $40 million in Tyrus Thomas
in 2010 they envisioned him being a key building block in their
foundation.

But the high-priced, seven-year NBA veteran has not lived up to
expectations and barely sees the floor anymore.

He hasn’t played in the team’s last eight games, and has been
declared inactive for the last six by first-year coach Mike
Dunlap.

When Thomas has played he hasn’t been particularly productive,
shooting 32 percent from floor and averaging 4.8 points and 2.8
rebounds per game.

One of the reasons Thomas isn’t playing is because Dunlap wants
to get younger players like Bismack Biyombo more experience. But
Dunlap said that a lack of consistent effort has also played into
the decision to sit the 6-foot-10 power forward.

Dunlap said Thomas’ effort has ”been there at times, but other
times it hasn’t been where it needed to be.”

”I think consistency is the word,” Dunlap added. ”It’s pretty
simple. The other thing is we have some fours in here that are
pretty young and it’s real obvious I’ve been doling out the minutes
to those guys in that form. (But) the one thing that is not up for
grabs is effort – consistent effort. You play to your
strengths.”

Perhaps a bigger problem for the Bobcats is what to do with
Thomas, who is under contract for two years beyond this season – at
a salary that makes it difficult to cut him.

He’s due to make $8.69 million next season and $9.38 million in
2014-15.

His play dropped off dramatically last season, but the Bobcats
banked on Thomas being able to regain the form he had in 2010-11
when he averaged 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Shortly after being hired as head coach last summer, Dunlap made
a special trip to Thomas’ hometown in Louisiana to talk about
expectations heading into the season and seemed convinced he could
fit into his style of play.

Thomas seemed rejuvenated by the conversation and the new
opportunity after feuding with former coach Paul Silas last season,
the result being an altercation in April in which Silas pushed
Thomas into his chair in the locker room after a loss to the Boston
Celtics.

Thomas put 20 pounds back on before the season – weight he’d
lost from being hospitalized during the NBA lockout with ulcers –
and things looked promising for a while.

But Thomas missed 30 games this season due to a leg injury and
he’s only scored 86 points this season – or $93,023.25 per point
based off his $8 million salary.

In addition, the Bobcats still owe a protected first-round pick
to the Chicago Bulls for the trade that originally brought Thomas
to Charlotte in 2010. That pick becomes unprotected in 2016.

”I don’t ever think about the money that anybody invests,”
Dunlap said Thomas’ playing time and salary. ”The standards are we
have a compass of what leads to good basketball. And so, he’s not
the only one. There are other guys who make a fair amount of dough
too and the expectations are the same.”

Ben Gordon and Gana Diop are two other high-priced Bobcats
who’ve seen reduced playing time.

Diop, who makes $8 million this year, is averaging 2.3 rebounds
and 0.6 points per game while playing in only 19 games. His
contract is up after the season.

Gordon makes $12.4 million this year and is due to make another
$13.2 million next year. He has been productive offensively this
season before seeing his minutes reduced after a practice
altercation with Dunlap. Gordon sat out Friday night’s game after
the team was unable to trade him, although he did return to play 11
minutes against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

”If a guy doesn’t play and you’re wondering why he went from
this amount of minutes to that amount of minutes, to me it is an
effort-based thing,” Dunlap said. ”Do you play good solid defense
and all of the contributions that fans would come to expect,
too?”

Thomas turned down interview requests through the team’s public
relations department.

Teammate Gerald Henderson said Thomas has been ”a model
citizen” and hasn’t been a distraction in the locker room.

”He’s been a pro every day,” Henderson said. ”He comes in and
gets his work in. Whatever the situation, he’s putting his work in
just to make sure he’s ready.”

Dunlap wouldn’t rule out Thomas returning to play this season
for the Bobcats, saying ”anything is possible.”

”When you make extreme statements that is not a good thing,”
Dunlap said. ”I think fairness is what I always look for.”