|Newest Sonic's mentoring could be Thomas' final NBA task|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 26 July 2007 16:37|
Not that he is focused on that. Not yet, anyway.
``No, I don't think like that. I just go out and play. When the time comes, I'll deal with that,'' the rugged and wise Thomas said Thursday after dining with new coach P.J. Carlesimo and getting a physical with his new team, the Seattle SuperSonics.
So what does he know about Durant, the 18-year-old player who was Seattle's pick at No. 2 in last month's draft?
``He's young,'' Thomas said, quickly.
Thomas isn't. He is a veteran of 12 NBA seasons spent with the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. He will turn 35 in October and has one year remaining on what could be his final contract.
Thanks to last week's trade in which Seattle obtained him and two of the Suns' future first-round draft choices, Thomas is suddenly the oldest member of the completely overhauled Sonics - by 4 1/2 years over recently acquired Wally Szczerbiak.
The Sonics got Thomas not because he averaged a career-low 4.6 points in 67 games last season for Phoenix, but because he personifies the mentality new general manager Sam Presti wants on his rebuilt team. Thomas has averaged 7.4 rebounds per game in his career and is also known for a commitment to defense.
Defense is an area that freewheeling - and free-falling - Seattle hasn't embraced in years.
``Kurt really represents the identity we are trying to develop,'' Presti said last week.
Seattle also craved Thomas' respected presence and experience in a locker room that will look more like a Romper Room when training camp opens in just over two months. He will try to impart the advice he learned from Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Patrick Ewing, who mentored him a decade ago.
Thomas, whose best season came in 2001-02 when he averaged 14 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks while starting all 82 games, is also one of nine forwards on Seattle's roster. That includes Durant and 20-year-old Jeff Green, the fifth overall pick.
``That's definitely a lot of forwards,'' Thomas said, smiling. ``I just am looking forward to getting with all these young, athletic guys and just going out and banging with them.
``Even though I'm a little up there in age, I am still going to try to show the young guys I know a thing or two.''
Last season, Phoenix often used the 6-foot-9 Thomas as a center who didn't exactly fit the Suns' run-and-gun ways. And with the Suns figuring to be about $10 million over the luxury tax limit for next season before the trade, Thomas' contract that has $8.1 million remaining on it was an obvious target for new GM Steve Kerr to shed.
``I knew there was a chance for a trade with a new GM coming and having a new philosophy,'' said Thomas, who played in 120 regular-season games and 12 in the playoffs in two seasons with Phoenix. ``I knew there would be changes - and the changes were for me. I didn't have any hard feelings about it. I enjoyed my time in Phoenix.
``Just like I am going to enjoy my time here.''
Much of it will be spent tutoring, something Thomas already realizes. And relishes.
``I've learned a tremendous amount from many guys in this league. Larry Johnson is from the same city I'm from (Dallas). He took me under his wing,'' Thomas said. ``I've learned a lot and been around a while. If a young prospect is willing to listen, I'm definitely there to be of help.''