Word on the Street: No Promise for Thomas

Word on the Street: No Promise for Thomas
Jun 21, 2006, 01:27 am
Does Thomas have a Promise?

Articles in both the Oregonian and Vancouver Columbian yesterday reported that Tyrus Thomas had cancelled his Tuesday workout with the Portland Trailblazers and informed them that he has a promise from a team drafting ahead of them. This information was relayed to reporters from both newspapers by Art Sasse, Portland’s vice president of communication. The Oregonian speculated that “Chicago is the team that has targeted Thomas.”

That news came as a surprise, as the Chicago Bulls have repeatedly said both privately and publicly over the past few days that absolutely no decision has been made of whom they will draft with the #2 pick as of right now. Much like in the case with Shelden Williams and the Hawks, it makes no sense to guarantee a player who will certainly be there at #2 and is regardless not working out competitively when a better option could very well come along. According to the Bulls, they still need to evaluate all their many different options, including Andrea Bargnani, when he is able to make it to the States now that the Italian League playoffs are in the books. News of a promise to Tyrus Thomas caught our source in Chicago by surprise: “It’s odd that that would come out today. As far as I know, we haven’t promised anyone anything.” The source talked about the fact that the Bulls are still evaluating who they might have on the board at #2, including Thomas, Aldridge, Morrison, and Andrea Bargnani, and talked about Chicago’s hope of being able to bring the Italian big man in for a workout in the next eight days.

DraftExpress went straight to the source of the news of a supposed promise, Art Sasse of the Portland Trail Blazers, who was present in the office and by the side of lead decision maker Kevin Pritchard at the time of our call. He reiterated to us that “Thomas’ workout was supposed to be today, but his agents Elfus and Siegel called us to cancel and said that he has a promise from a team drafting ahead of us. What the Oregonian reported was correct….We are anxious to work him out and are hoping to have a chance to do so.” When asked about a workout Portland supposedly watched in Orlando with Thomas, Sasse confirmed, but said it was “an agent sponsored workout,” and that they “need to see him at our facility.”

A phone call was placed to Thomas’ agents Brian Elfus and Michael Siegel to see if they had any news of a potential promise from the Bulls or another team, in order to see where everyone stands on this matter. “Absolutely no promise has been made by any team drafting anywhere. Nothing the Oregonian has published so far about Tyrus has been accurate. I’ve never told anyone anything about a promise. Tyrus’ workout was put off because he had to take care of something more pressing, but we’ve left the door open with the Blazers for him to possibly come back. There are no guarantees in this draft until his name is called and he puts the team’s hat on.

Elfus added that “it should be noted that Thomas already worked out for Portland in Orlando, and they had lunch with him.”

Responding to a question about a workout Thomas has scheduled for Thursday with the Toronto Raptors, Elfus said that “there is a possibility he’ll be in Toronto.” When asked about the workout he has scheduled on Thursday already with Charlotte, Elfus mentioned that they are discussing sending Thomas back there, since he will not be able to attend. Regarding whether or not either of those two workouts will be held competitively with other players, Elfus said they are “discussing that with Charlotte.” Elfus also mentioned to us that they “might even still squeeze him in with Minnesota.”

Art Sasse of the Trailblazers later returned a phone call of ours and reiterated to us that Portland’s offer to work Thomas out is still on the table, but that “all the information in the Oregonian and other sources regarding what happened yesterday has been very consistent with what we’ve said and were told. I’ve spoken to Kevin [Pritchard] numerous times and that was the exact conversation he had with Thomas’ agents. Their stance sounded very definitive.” Sasse added that “if things have changed from yesterday to today, then we’d absolutely encourage Thomas to come work out.” When asked whether the Blazers will need to see a player before they draft him, he said they “would prefer to work him out.”

The moral of this story appears to be that Tyrus Thomas does not have a promise at this point and will continue to work out for teams drafting ahead and below Chicago. With Thomas apparently working out on Thursday with Toronto, it would be disadvantageous for him to fly all the way out to the West Coast to work out for Portland for a Tuesday workout if he is to be in top form. With only seven days left till the draft and only one half of a full workout (with Chicago) completed, Thomas might be working against the clock if there are still five teams that need to see him. Those would be Toronto, Charlotte, Portland, Minnesota and Chicago, who had their workout cut short due to a stomach virus Thomas suffered the day before and will probably want to see him again.

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