We still don't know for sure if Rip Hamilton is joining the Bulls, although all signs point in that direction, but we do know Kurt Thomas will not be back. The veteran center who started 37 games for the Bulls signed a free agent contract with the Portland Trial Blazers on Sunday.
"Obviously, we wanted Kurt Thomas back, and we offered Kurt Thomas a contract," general manager Gar Forman said. "He was a big part of what we did a year ago. But Kurt Thomas had to evaluate the situation from his perspective and obviously he must have felt that Portland presented a better opportunity for him."
Thomas averaged 4.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game last season and played a key role when Joakim Noah was sidelined for an extended period. The 16-year veteran also served as a mentor for Noah and rookie center Omer Asik.
"You can't say enough about him," Thibodeau said. "The guy's been around forever. He's a great pro. He's a great leader. He stays ready whenever he's called upon. He can sit there for two months, not play and you call upon him, and he's ready to go. I thought he was great in our locker room. But he'll be a big a plus for that team."
Expect Forman to add front-line depth at either power forward or center to compensate.
"We'll have to have some depth behind them even if it's just from a practice standpoint," Forman said. "It's hard to go through a season with just four bigs. That's still something we're taking a look at, whether we add another four or a five. Again, if we don't find the right guy we'll be patient with it and try to keep some flexibility with that position. If we don't address it right away we may address it down the road."