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Tim Thomas a Net?

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With the trade deadline past and the Bulls deep in buyout talks with Tim Thomas, reports are intensifying about whether the Paterson native–and former Nets’ draft choice–could join New Jersey in time for the playoffs. And while the interest is mutual, according to reports, it's hard to tell what's going on. The same Bulls team that didn't think he could play for them is now insisting that Thomas not join any Eastern Conference team for fear he could come back to haunt them.

Thomas hasn’t played since November 14, when the Bulls told him he was not part of their plans for the future and sent him home. He had arrived, unhappy, in Chicago as part of the Eddie Curry trade, an expiring contract ideal for putting together a sign-and-trade package. He had some nagging injuries in training camp with the Knicks–ankles and back–but nothing that prevented him from playing. What did prevent him was bad blood between him and Bulls coach Scott Skiles.

Initially, the Bulls thought they could move him in a trade but as the deadline passed, those hopes ended. So shortly after 3:01 p.m. EST last Thursday, when he wasn't traded, buyout talks began. Then the question became how quickly could he be waived or bought out. For it to matter, he will have to be waived by Wednesday. By 11:59 p.m., teams will have to submit their playoff rosters to the league offices. If you’re not on the roster, you’re not playing.

The Nets believed they had the inside track and were cautiously optimistic.

John Paxson, the Bulls' GM, said he was amenable to getting a buyout arranged, but said he wanted to make sure that Thomas doesn't go to a team in "direct competition...someone we are chasing". Initally, Nets officials thought he was referring only to the Sixers who are two games ahead of the Bulls in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Now, however, it's been learned that Paxson doesn't want either the Sixers or the Nets to get Thomas.

Paxson has a lot of leverage: $5.1 million worth. That's the amount the Bulls owe Thomas. If he is waived outright, he gets to collect it all. And Paxson has let it be known that he is prepared to do that only if Thomas agrees to play out west, far away from the Eastern Conference. If not, the question is will Thomas accept less than that and even if he is, is Paxson prepared to sit on Thomas's contract past Wednesday's playoff deadline.

Thomas voiced optimistic Monday night that a deal would get done and even said that there was a "pretty good chance" he would become a Net in time for the playoffs.

Thomas has become newly attractive to two Western Conference teams. With injuries to Robert Horry and Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas could be a valuable late season addition to the Spurs and Suns.

So here is the scenario that will have to play out before Wednesday: Under league rules, if Thomas is waived, with or without a buyout, any team taking him off the waiver wire would have to pick up his expiring contract for the rest of the season–that $5.1 million. The team would also have to carry his full salary, nearly $14 million, on its salary cap and luxury tax for this year. That is not going to happen. So, Thomas would then become a free agent. He could be signed for as little as the vets’ minimum, which for him would be $1,138,000, pro-rated for the remainder of the season at between $300,000 to $400,000.

Teams with money remaining from the low-level (LLE) or mid-level exception (MLE) could also use that money to entice him. The Nets have neither. Among the teams pursuing him, Philadelphia and San Antonio have LLE money available. Philadelphia also has some money left over from their MLE. The LLE, $1.67 million, could be used to sign Thomas. And unlike the vets minimum, the LLE does not have to be pro-rated. The downside for any team wanting to do that is that the LLE can only be used every two years. So by using it to sign Thomas for a few months, they would be forsaking it next season. (Those teams could of course sign Thomas for two years using the LLE, but would he want to limit his free agent possibilities?) Philadelphia also has $1.25 million from its MLE in addition to the LLE.

Here's NetsDaily's updated compendium of media stories on the possibilities of Thomas joining the Nets, most recent stories first.

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Bulls general manager John Paxson still is trying to come to terms on an agreement that would allow forward Tim Thomas to join another team by Wednesday, the league deadline for playoff rosters to be set.

"It is going to have to get done by Wednesday or not at all," Paxson said. "I'm still trying and hope to have it done."

Thomas, whom Paxson sent home to New York after playing only three games this season, continues to draw his salary of about $14 million from the Bulls. He likely would want to join an Eastern Conference team such as his native New Jersey Nets or the nearby Philadelphia 76ers.

Paxson, however, made it clear last week that he would not waive Thomas if he was going to land with a team "that is a direct competitor" of the Bulls. That would seem to rule out any Eastern Conference team.

The Western Conference teams with the most interest in Thomas appear to be the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

--Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times, February 28.

Tim Thomas believes his settlement with the Bulls is hours away and said there's a "pretty good chance" he'll play with the Nets.

The Nets, Suns, Spurs, Heat, 76ers and Pacers are believed to be in the mix for Thomas after he is bought out and waived.

The Bulls were talking to Thomas' agent, Arn Tellem, on Monday, trying to hammer out the details. The hang-up is that the Bulls don't want Thomas playing for an Eastern Conference competitor.

The Bulls could give Thomas much less than the roughly $5 million left on his deal if he picks the Nets or 76ers, whereas he'll likely get most, if not all, of his money if he chooses the Spurs or Suns.

Thomas must be waived by Wednesday for him to be playoff eligible. All indications are he will be.

"I'm just waiting," Thomas said. "I'm weighing my options, trying to see what's the best scenario for me."

Once the Paterson native is waived, the Nets or any of the above teams would have to wait 48 hours for him to clear waivers. Only teams under the cap can sign him before he clears waivers.

While the Spurs and Heat have obvious appeal, the Suns, now that Kurt Thomas is out for about eight weeks, also could become a player in the Tim Thomas sweepstakes. He would fit well in the Suns' run- and-gun style.

The Nets' appeal is obvious.

"I'm taking into consideration the whole scenario," Thomas said. "Playing with a good friend [Vince Carter], with a great point guard like Jason [Kidd] and alongside RJ [Richard Jefferson] and being at home - that's an opportunity nobody can give me.

"I have to find the situation that's right for me."

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 28.

The Nets' pursuit of Tim Thomas took a sharp turn for the worse Sunday night, when Chicago's buyout provisions expanded to include a demand that the forward find future employment outside of the Eastern Conference.

Bulls GM John Paxson told agent Arn Tellem that he is determined to give Thomas the money he has left on his $14 million contract and allow him to become a free agent, but only if Thomas subsequently signs with San Antonio or Phoenix.

The negotiation continued yesterday with no settlement. But Paxson has control of the discussion: If Thomas is not waived by Wednesday, the Paterson native won't be eligible for the playoffs regardless of what team he chooses to play for.

Entering the weekend, it was believed that Paxson didn't want Thomas to go to Philadelphia, because the Bulls are chasing the Sixers for the eighth seed in the East. But the Nets have been added to his list of undesirables because they still have two games against Chicago this season.

The Nets' only hope -- which a team official admits is slim -- is the fact that Tellem can be very persuasive. But with the deadline looming, it appears that Thomas will have to give up a large amount of the $5.1 million he is owed in exchange for his freedom of choice; and that he would just as soon take all his money and go to the Spurs or Suns, two teams that have a role for him and are much closer to a title than the Nets can be.

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 28.

The Nets can tell themselves Tim Thomas might not have gotten along with Jason Collins Jason Collins anyway.

The Nets' chances of landing Thomas have dimmed considerably. Several team sources sounded anything but optimistic about signing the 6-9 forward if he is bought out by Chicago. The buyout negotiations for about $5 million remaining on Thomas $13.975 contract continued yesterday and the Bulls are definitely set on having Thomas go West. Thomas must be bought out and waived by Wednesday or he would be ineligible for the playoffs.

"It's going to happen by Wednesday or not at all," Bulls GM John Paxson told reporters yesterday.

It seems the Suns, who have lost Kurt Thomas for up to two months, have joined the list of serious suitors. The Spurs also have interest. Paxson last week said he did not want Thomas going to a team the Bulls are chasing for a playoff spot, which all interpreted as the Sixers. But technically, they're also chasing the Nets.

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 28.

TIM TIME? The Nets are still waiting on the Bulls, who are negotiating a buyout with Tim Thomas. Thomas has to be signed by tomorrow to be eligible for the playoffs.

--Ohm Youngmisuk, New York Daily News, February 28.

The buyout negotiation with Chicago continued today, and it turns out that John Paxson is playing a different kind of hardball. Not only does he want Thomas to stay away from the 76ers (whom the Bulls are chasing in the playoff race), he wants him out of the Eastern Conference entirely.

So far, we’re told, he’s given Arn Tellem two choices: Take the $5.1 Timmy has left on his deal and go to San Antonio or Phoenix, or give some back and we’ll discuss it some more, for as long as it takes.

In short, it’s not looking very good right now: Pax seems determined to keep Thomas away from both the Sixers and Nets. But as everyone knows, Tellem can be pretty persuasive.

So with Wednesday’s deadline looming, perhaps the only questions are these: How much of the five-point-one is Timmy willing to give up in exchange for freedom of choice? And what kind of choice is it, really, when the defending champion Spurs have already sent word out that they want you?

--Dave D'Alessandro, NJ.com, February 27.

The Bulls would like to accommodate Tim Thomas by releasing him before March 1 so he can be eligible to join some team's playoff roster, but don't want to let him go anywhere he could come back and bite them. They certainly want to negotiate some financial relief, but given the fact that one of the teams he might end up with is Philadelphia, they're apprehensive. New Jersey and San Antonio are also on his wish list.

--Tony Mejia, CBS Sportsline, February 27.

Expiring contracts are usually an attractive commodity at this time of the year; however, the Bulls were unable to unload Tim Thomas and his $14 million contract. It didn't help that everyone knew the Bulls would just waive him after the deadline, so they got a bunch of ridiculous offers. Thomas will likely land with one of the title contenders. Probably San Antonio, which is unsure about Robert Horry's nagging lower abdominal strain.

--Percy Allen, Seattle Times, February 26.

Taking Nailon's contract off the books lowers the Sixers' payroll for luxury tax purposes to around $61.7 million, or $2 million under the limit. King is hoping that gives him enough space to make a run at Chicago forward Tim Thomas, whom Bulls general manager John Paxson said could be released before Wednesday.

Thomas, who has been inactive since Nov. 14, is in the final year of his contract, and Paxson and Thomas' agent have been discussing a buyout so Thomas can join another team before playoff rosters are frozen.

However, there is a catch. Paxson would prefer Thomas not join a team in the Central Division or one Chicago is chasing for a playoff berth.

''We're not under any obligation to anything we don't want to,'' Paxson said. ''I respect the fact that he wants to play. We're also playing his contract, and we have the right to make sure it's the best thing for us.''

--Jeff Schuler, Allentown Morning Call, February 26

Tim Thomas and the Chicago Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement by early this week. Once the 6-10 forward clears waivers, he'll be able to choose among the San Antonio Spurs, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets for his next team.

If Thomas picks New Jersey, Nets center Jason Collins said he will not have a problem with his new teammate. When Thomas and the Knicks faced the Nets in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, Collins sent Thomas out of the series with a hard foul in Game 2. Thomas called Collins a coward and a dirty player, even a year later.

"I think he would appreciate someone on his team who isn't afraid to give a hard foul in the playoffs," Collins said of Thomas. "It's different when someone's your teammate versus someone who's your opponent."

--Bob Considine, Asbury Park Press, February 26.

Nets' officials are waiting to see what happens with Tim Thomas in Chicago, but most of the players are not waiting with anxiously for the onetime Knick.

The Nets would welcome Thomas, despite his feelings for Jason Collins and some of things he's said since Collins knocked him out of the 2004 playoffs with a hard foul.

"If he can help the team win some games, that is all I care about," Collins said. "If he came in and helped us win some games then I'm all for it."

Vince Carter is a friend of Thomas and said he would recruit him if the Nets asked.

--Al Innazzone, YES Network, February 25.

While the Knicks' lineup is set for the rest of the season, the Nets are still awaiting a buyout between the Chicago Bulls and Tim Thomas. The two sides continued talks Friday.

New Jersey, San Antonio and Philadelphia will compete for Thomas' services if he is bought out and waived before March 1, the last day he would be eligible to play in the playoffs.

Because the Bulls are competing with the 76ers for the eighth playoff spot, Chicago could fashion a buyout that would give Thomas more money by not re-signing with Philadelphia.

Thomas is owed what remains of the $13.975 million he made this season. The Nets can only offer a pro-rated league minimum of over $300,000.

--Bob Considine, Bridgewater Courier-News, February 25.

Karl said the Nuggets had conversations about trading for Chicago forward Tim Thomas. With Thomas likely to have his contract bought out, Karl said Denver's interest wouldn't be high since a forward is no longer needed . . .

--Chris Tomasson, Rocky Mountain News, February 25.

[T]he Nets might need to mend fences fast if they end up with Bulls forward Tim Thomas. Then again, maybe they won't.

"I don't foresee it being a problem. I try to be above all that. If he can help the team, that's what matters. I'm all about the team," said Jason Collins, whom Thomas still seems to have a grudge against from a hard foul two years ago in the playoffs. "[As] teammates, he'd probably appreciate someone like me who'd go out there and give a hard foul."

Team brass is interested in Thomas, but cautiously optimistic. The Nets seem to have the inside track. And in New Jersey, there's a forgiving air.

"If he can help us win, that's the bottom line," Kidd said of Thomas' past.

Players must be waived by Wednesday to be playoff-eligible so the Bulls have to buy out Thomas ($13.975 million) by then. He has targeted four teams: the Nets, Spurs, Heat and Sixers.

Bulls GM John Paxson does not want Thomas going to Philadelphia, a team Chicago may have to fight for a playoff spot. The Bulls also want some financial relief and of the four teams, only Miami ($3.9 million) and Philly ($1.25 mil) have mid-level money. The Heat also could use some of that to pay Thomas. The Nets can offer only a pro-rated minimum, about $300,000.

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 25.

Tim Thomas has several reasons to join the Nets if and when the Bulls buy out his contract.

Besides playing at home and with Jason Kidd, Thomas would have Jason Collins watching his back for a change. The man who put Thomas on his back for most of the 2004 playoffs, when Thomas was on the Knicks, said as much yesterday.

"I think he would appreciate someone on his team who isn't afraid to give a hard foul in the playoffs," Collins said of his former nemesis. "It's different when someone's your teammate versus someone who's your opponent."

As the Nets anxiously await Chicago's decision to buy out Thomas, several players talked about adding a player who once wanted to fight Collins and Kenyon Martin after Collins knocked Thomas out with a flagrant foul in Game 1 of the Nets' first-round sweep.

"I'm going to make Tim Thomas come here," said Vince Carter, who is friends with Thomas. "So it doesn't matter. Only kidding."

At a recent Nets game, Thomas wasn't kidding around when he said he still doesn't "respect" what Collins did. He even joked that he could use his new Jersey roots to do away with Collins, hinting at the taste for mobster movies that led him to call Martin a "fugazy" two years ago.

Still, Thomas said the Nets and Spurs are on top of his wish list of teams to join. Thomas and his agent are attempting to negotiate a buyout with the Bulls, who sent Thomas home after he played in just three games this season.

Thomas may want to play alongside Tim Duncan. But if he watched last night's game at the Garden, he saw that the Nets' center isn't so bad himself. Nenad Krstic made all 11 of his shots on a 23-point night.

With Collins saying he would watch Thomas' back, the Nets hope that Thomas can let the past go.

"If he hasn't let it go yet then you guys should be talking to him," Richard Jefferson said. "It was an unfortunate incident that he got hurt. We moved on. Maybe except for Kenyon, who is no longer with our team. The biggest person he had a problem with isn't on our team anymore. It is no big deal."

Thomas hopes to negotiate a buyout of the final year of his contract by Wednesday, the deadline for free agents to sign and still be eligible for the playoffs.

Bulls GM John Paxson told Chicago reporters that he does not want Thomas to join an Eastern Conference rival. Thomas will draw interest from several teams, including the Spurs, Sixers and Pacers. The Nets can only offer Thomas the prorated amount of the veteran minimum because they are over the salary cap. But they shipped Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson to the Hornets on Thursday in a salary-cutting trade to avoid the luxury tax and potentially sign Thomas.

"Timmy would help anybody," said Knicks coach Larry Brown, who coached Thomas in Philadelphia. "It would be a great pickup."

--Ohm Youngmisuk, New York Daily News, February 25.

Day 2 of the Tim Thomas watch came and went without any settlement between agent Arn Tellem and Chicago GM John Paxson.

Still, no anxiety.

"It's not going to happen today, but I'll find out more later when I talk to Arn," Thomas said late yesterday afternoon. "I'm pretty sure they're talking some more today."

The Nets are among the teams that will vie for the Paterson native's services after he is bought out of his $14 million contract and waived, but it is unclear how much interest there is on the part of the Spurs and Heat. Thomas doesn't know whether the process of choosing a team will include a visit to those places.

"That's a detail that hasn't been worked out yet," he said. "But I will talk to everybody, at least. I just don't want to get too far ahead of this. I want to get it done as soon as possible, but I don't want to (think beyond) the Chicago thing yet."

Paxson wants to cooperate, by all accounts, but has one reservation: "I don't want Tim to be able to go to a team that is a direct competitor of us -- a division team or a team we are chasing."

By that, it is largely assumed he means Philadelphia.

Another country heard from: "It's great for them," Knicks coach Larry Brown said of a potential Nets- Thomas marriage. "I think he would help anybody. He can really run the floor, he can spread the defense out, he can take an outside shot. He can play more than one position. He can play the four.

"They've had (Scott) Padgett playing the four a lot, and Cliff (Robinson). I think Timmy can play there for them as well. That would be a great pickup."

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 25.

If there’s any doubt in your mind that the Chicago Bulls will release Tim Thomas to sign with another outfit before Wednesday – thereby making him eligible for the playoffs – you might want to consider something a GM told us yesterday.

"No way," he said. "You want to screw with Arn Tellem, you’re basically screwed for the rest of your tenure."

That settles that.

Anyway, you might want to read this.

When Pax says that he doesn’t want Thomas to go to a team that is a "direct competitor," it would appear he is referring to the Sixers, not the Nets.

What’s to stop them from adding that issue to the buyout negotiation? Nothing. Pax could easily say, "You can keep the entire sum, as long as you promise to go to Jersey and not Philly." Otherwise, you really can’t blame him for playing hardball, and asking for a few dollars back.

--Dave D'Alessandro, NJ.com, February 24.

They traded Marc Jackson to the Hornets for Bostjan Nachbar to add some perimeter shooting. They might be able to get even more firepower soon if they can sign Tim Thomas off waivers.

--Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated, February 24.

With the deal, the Nets clear Jackson's $4.55 million salary in an effort to put them below this season's luxury tax threshold of $61.7 million, as well as the $4.87 million salary owed for next season. At the same time, they gave themselves the financial flexibility to pick up forward Tim Thomas, should he be bought out and waived by Chicago.

"(The trade) gives us the ability to remain under the luxury tax and to sign a player," Nets president Rod Thorn said.

Thomas, a Paterson, N.J., native and nine-year NBA pro, was traded from the Knicks to Chicago in the Eddy Curry deal on Oct. 7. But he found himself quickly at odds with Bulls coach Scott Skiles before being asked to leave the team. The Bulls would need to buy out Thomas and waive him by Wednesday if he is to be eligible for the playoffs.

--Bob Considine, Asbury Park Press, February 24.

It gives us the ability to remain under the luxury tax and to sign a player -- whoever that player may be -- if there is a player that will fit our needs."

Thomas would fit, but the Nets are waiting for Chicago to buy out his contract or waive him. Thomas has to be signed before Wednesday to be playoff eligible. The Nets, Spurs and Sixers are on Thomas' wish list.

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 24.

[T]hat is merely a footnote to what has become the Nets' primary objective at the deadline, which is to wait out the final minutes of Tim Thomas's brief and fruitless stay in Chicago.

Team officials disclosed yesterday that the Nets will put a full-court trap on the Paterson native as soon as the Bulls buy him out and release him, though it all has to happen by Wednesday -- the last day a player can be waived and still remain eligible for the playoffs.

"They're talking again today, and nothing's happened yet, but I'm very confident they'll get something done," Thomas said yesterday, referring to agent Arn Tellem and Bulls GM John Paxson. "I don't think Chicago will hold me back. I think something will get done very soon."

And after passing through waivers, the would-be free agent has marked the Nets, Miami and San Antonio as the teams he would like to play for.

"I always wanted to play for the Nets," he said. "The day I was drafted by them (in 1997), I was so excited. Then to get turned around and sent to Philly, it was a downer, but it wasn't so bad because I went to college there (Villanova)."

The 6-10, 235-pound Thomas, who turns 29 Sunday, could be a very significant addition: He's an athletic player who can score from anywhere on the court, he can fortify a very weak bench that goes only three deep on most nights, and can play three positions -- though his detractors would hasten to add that he defends none.

Shortly after being traded from the Knicks to the Bulls on Oct. 7, he became persona non grata in Chicago, sent home to collect his $14 million salary. Paxson attempted to move his expiring contract all season, and after failing at the deadline, the buyout talks have begun in earnest.

"I like all options I have," said Thomas, who lives in Manhattan and frequently visits his mother in Montclair. "It's a good position to be in. I just have to pick the best place for me. And I'll take some time with it -- not a lot of time, because I want to get back to playing. But I want to make sure the process makes sense."

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 24.

They also can sign Tim Thomas, when the Bulls part ways with him, without worrying about being over the luxury tax threshold now.

"It was addition by subtraction," one league official said.

"It gives us the ability to remain under the luxury tax," Thorn said, "and to sign a player, whoever that player may be, if there is a player that will fit our needs.

Don't think this is the start of another fire sale like two summers ago when the Nets gave up Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles for draft picks. They want to add Thomas, and will be in the running with the Spurs and Sixers once he's free. But it has to happen before Wednesday, March 1 for Thomas to be playoff eligible.

--Al Iannazzone, YES Network, February 24.

By dealing forwards Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson III to the New Orleans Hornets for the 25-year-old forward Bostjan Nachbar just before the N.B.A. trading deadline yesterday, Nets President Rod Thorn was able to accomplish two things.

This enables us to get under the luxury tax," Thorn said during a conference call, adding that the deal was subject to all players passing their physicals. "And it gives us some flexibility."

Thorn did not elaborate on what he meant by flexibility. But by dealing the 31-year-old Jackson, who will make $4.55 million this season, Thorn gave himself some maneuvering room to sign Tim Thomas, a former Knick, should the Chicago Bulls buy out his contract as expected.

--Jason Diamos, New York Times, February 24.

The intriguing part for the Nets, however, is that they're now in a position to sign Tim Thomas if - or rather, when - the Bulls waive him in the coming days. Jackson makes more than Nachbar, so swapping the contracts gives the Nets enough clearance below the luxury tax line to take a shot at Thomas.

The only fly in the ointment is that Philadelphia looks to be pursuing the Paterson native as well - they even foisted backup forward Lee Nailon off on Cleveland yesterday to clear space. With the two clubs offering similar money, it will be interesting to see if Thomas chooses his high school roots and goes with the Nets, or his young adult roots (he played a year at Villanova and began his pro career as a Sixer) with Philly.

--John Hollinger, New York Sun, February 24.

The trade also opens up some room to add another player, possibly Tim Thomas, if he is bought out by the Bulls. Team president Rod Thorn declined to discuss specific players.

"This enables us to get under the luxury tax and Nachbar is a good athlete who has had some moments in the league," said Thorn, who spoke with "four or five" teams yesterday. "It gives us some flexibility. It gives us the ability to remain under the luxury tax and to sign a player, whoever that might be, if there is a player that would fit our needs."

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 24.

The trade was made to get the Nets under the luxury tax threshold - it saved $7 million - and give them flexibility to sign Tim Thomas if the forward is released soon by the Bulls...

That is why the Nets hope the Bulls buy Thomas out of his contract and do it by Wednesday so he can be playoff-eligible. Thomas, who played in just three games this season before Chicago sent him home, said he is considering the Nets and Spurs.

Thomas, however, is anything but a defensive stopper, so the number of minutes Frank would play the athletic forward remains to be seen.

--Ohm Youngmisuk, New York Daily News, February 24.

The Philadelphia 76ers want Tim Thomas, too, and they cleared Lee Nailon off their roster to provide some financial flexibility if they ever get a chance to make a push for the former Villanova star.

The 76ers dealt Nailon and their 2006 second-round pick to Cleveland on Thursday, getting back the Cavs' much-traveled 2006 second-round pick.

Once the 76ers clear Jamal Mashburn's contract off their salary cap, they'll have about a half-million dollars to offer Thomas, without incurring a luxury tax, should Thomas be bought out of his current contract with the Chicago Bulls.

The New Jersey Nets also made a trade Thursday with an eye toward acquiring Thomas, sending forwards Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson to New Orleans for Bostjan Nachbar. It was not immediately clear if the Nets had given themselves enough financial flexibility to outbid the Sixers for Thomas, who must be waived by 11:59 p.m. on March 1 in order to retain his postseason eligibility.

--Chris Sheridan, ESPN, February 24.

With the trade deadline having passed, the Bulls are expected to begin negotiations with Thomas on a buyout of the remaining half-season of his contract. His salary still would remain on the payroll until the summer, so a buyout would not affect the Bulls' salary-cap status heading into free agency.

The Bulls still owe Thomas approximately $6 million of his $14 million salary for 2005-06. Thomas, who arrived in the Eddy Curry trade with New York, has played a total of 31 minutes this season.

--Nick Hut, Northwest Herald, February 24.

The Bulls likely will release Tim Thomas before March 1, general manager John Paxson said Thursday after the league's trade deadline passed.

That would allow Thomas to be eligible for the playoffs if another team picks him up. The Spurs and Nets are said to be interested in Thomas, whom the Bulls acquired in the Eddy Curry trade for his expiring contract.

He has been paid most of his salary, nearly $14 million, to stay away from the team after playing in three games.

Paxson and Thomas' representatives are working out an agreement that will allow Thomas to join a Western Conference team or an Eastern Conference team, as long it isn't in the Central Division and the Bulls aren't chasing it for a playoff berth.

"I respect the fact he wants to play," Paxson said. "We're also paying his contract and we have the right to make sure that it's the best thing for us."

--Marlen Garcia, Chicago Tribune, February 24.

The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday, and even Tim Thomas, a Bull in absentia, remained with the team.

Thomas, though, could be waived within the next few days, said general manager John Paxson...

As for Tim Thomas' future, the only thing certain Thursday was that he has none with the Bulls.

Paxson has been talking with Thomas' agent, Arn Tellem. Various reports have the New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs interested in signing Thomas, who was sent home by the Bulls after three games this season. Of that group, Paxson likely would rather see Thomas end up with the Spurs, a Western Conference team.

"We are working on a way to resolve it,'' Paxson said. "My only issue is I don't want Tim to be able to go to a team that is a direct competitor of us -- a division team or a team we are chasing.''

The Bulls are two games behind the 76ers for the eighth Eastern Conference playoff berth. Tellem and Thomas need the Bulls to waive him by Wednesday, when playoff rosters are set.

"That plays a part in what we're going to do,'' Paxson said. "But my first and only priority is to do what's right for the Bulls organization. We're not under any obligation to do anything we don't want to do.

"I respect the fact that he wants to play. We're also paying his contract, and we have the right to make sure it's the best thing for us. If we can get some financial relief out of the deal, then we'll certainly look into that. We're talking, and I expect something to happen.''

--Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times, February 24.

Another task at hand is bringing a resolution to the Tim Thomas saga. Thomas was acquired from New York in the Eddy Curry trade but was sent home after playing in only three games.

He is still on the Bulls’ roster, collecting a $13.8 million salary. But now that the trade deadline has passed, there is no reason for the Bulls to keep him. If Thomas is released by Wednesday, he is eligible to be on the playoff roster of another NBA team.

Paxson said Thursday he does not want to see Thomas end up playing for a team that is competing with the Bulls for a playoff spot. Thomas, a New Jersey native, has told East Coast reporters he is interested in joining the Nets, Sixers, Spurs and Heat.

"My only issue is I don’t want Tim to go to a team that is a direct competitor of us — a division team or a team we’re chasing," Paxson said. "That plays a part in what we’re going to do.

"We’re not under any obligation to do something that we don’t want to do. I respect the fact he wants to play. But we’re also paying his contract, and we have the right to make sure that it’s the best thing for us. If we can get some financial relief out of the deal, we’ll certainly look into that, too."

Paxson said Thomas’ agent, Arn Tellem, has been easy to deal with, and he expects a resolution soon.

--Mike McGraw, Arlington Heights Herald, February 24.

Unable to trade Tim Thomas before Thursday's deadline, the Chicago Bulls are discussing a contract buyout with their banished forward, general manager John Paxson said.

Thomas, earning approximately $14 million in the final year of his contract, hopes to join a playoff team. Players waived after March 1 are not eligible for the postseason.

"We are working on a way to resolve it," Paxson said. "My only issue is I don't want Tim to go to a direct competitor with us — someone we're chasing, whatever."

Acquired in the Eddy Curry trade in early October, Thomas averaged 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in three games and was sent home after he complained about a limited role. He has averaged 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in his career, but hasn't met expectations that accompanied him from Villanova to the NBA in 1997.

Paxson said he would like to reach an agreement with Thomas by March 1.

"I respect the fact that he wants to play," Paxson said. "We're also paying his contract, and we have the right to make sure it's the best thing for us. If we can get some financial relief out of the deal, then we'll certainly look into that."

When asked if there was any chance Thomas would rejoin the team, Paxson said, "No."

After winning 47 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1998 last season, the Bulls are 24-29 and ninth in the Eastern Conference.

--Associated Press, February 23.

Clearly, what fits best for this team is a big with a different body type, a different style, a different temperament. And since you can’t undo the Shareef decision, you go after the closest thing.

Tim Thomas.

That’s the ticket, laddy.

He runs, he jumps, he has skill, and he plays three positions. That’s not a bad combination for a player. He doesn’t defend very well. That’s a bad trait for a Lawrence Frank player. We say this: Who cares? They can reach a modus vivendi. Of course, three things have to happen first.

# Chicago has to buy him out and waive him.

# The Bulls have to do this by Wednesday, otherwise he is ineligible for the playoffs, according to the rules.

# And finally, the Nets have to go into this with their renowned Frankian optimism. Even if it doesn’t exist, fake it.

Thomas obviously wants to play in Jersey, but after all he’s been through, he wants to be wanted, too. That means when the Nets sit down with him to discuss joining up, they should tell him this: Don’t come in here with any sense of entitlement. If you defend, you will play and restore some of your market value for the summer. If you don’t, you’ll collect dust. We like you, we believe you can help. Just know beforehand the kind of help we need.

If they’re honest, he’ll probably bite. And if he can’t handle the truth, they’re lucky if he passes.

But the Nets need an athletic, veteran sub, and Thomas needs a team. Long and profitable partnerships have been formed on less commonality. He obviously wants to play here, and he’s probably (probably) learned a harsh lesson about making himself more marketable, his talent more desirable. That means he shuts up and does what the coach asks, plays hard, and doesn’t let the family stuff get in the way of his job.

It could work. And given the current state of the Nets’ bench, it almost has to work.

--Dave D'Alessandro, NJ.com, February 23.

Tim Thomas normally would've returned to work this week following the four-day All-Star weekend he enjoyed with his wife and two young daughters in Southern California.

Thomas' life has been far from normal for nearly three months, though, and he hopes the strange situation completely changes once the NBA trading deadline passes at 3 p.m. today.

The former Paterson Catholic star figures the Chicago Bulls will wait until then, in the unlikely event a franchise finally makes an offer for Thomas' expiring contract, to begin negotiations on a buyout of what remains on the six-year, $67.5 million deal he signed in the summer of 2000. Thomas, who'll turn 29 Sunday, has remained away from the struggling Bulls since early December, when Chicago general manager Jim Paxson informed him that he should stay away from the team while he explored trade options. Thomas played in only three games for Chicago after a trade from the Knicks and is still owed roughly $6 million of the $13.95 million he is contracted to collect this season.

That enormous sum makes a trade unappealing even to the Nets, San Antonio, Miami and Philadelphia, the four teams Thomas indicated have expressed interest in signing him for the remainder of the season if the Bulls buy him out. Paxson hasn't initiated buyout talks with Arn Tellem, Thomas' agent, but Thomas isn't discouraged by the inactivity. Nevertheless, Thomas said Wednesday that he wouldn't accept less buyout money than the sum he is owed to officially part ways with the Bulls.

"I hope it's not one of those things where I have to sit out a whole year," said Thomas, who will become an unrestricted free agent again in July. "I don't think it's going to get that far because I think they'll do what's best for their organization and we'll both move forward."

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Thomas wouldn't mind moving forward with any of the four aforementioned teams.

He has watched numerous Nets, Spurs, Heat and Sixers games since starting his team-imposed break, all while trying to comprehend coach Scott Skiles' conclusion that the Bulls are better off paying Thomas to stay away. The ninth-year pro played just 31 combined minutes for the Bulls, who were 23-29 and fighting for the eighth and final Eastern Conference Playoffs berth entering their game against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. A lack of playing time prompted Thomas, who suffered two ankle sprains during training camp, to ask Skiles if he the feisty former NBA point guard believed Thomas was "dogging it" in practice.

Skiles simply told Thomas he didn't think the versatile former Villanova star was playing at a level comparable to Chicago's other small forwards, Luol Deng (13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Andres Nocioni (11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds).

"I just wanted to play basketball," said Thomas, who has posted career averages of 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds. "I knew it was a young team, but I still thought it was a great opportunity. I really can't pinpoint (what went wrong). I wish I knew what happened, because I'm tired of running into people, having them ask me about it and not being able to give them a real answer. The only thing I can come up with is Chicago has a young group of guys that they like, and they just basically want to stick with that."

The now-horrific Knicks sent Thomas, power forward Michael Sweetney, guard Jermaine Jackson and a conditional first-round draft choice to Chicago for center Eddy Curry and since-traded forward Antonio Davis in a deal the NBA approved on Oct. 7. The multi-player swap hasn't helped either team immensely, but Thomas hopes he can be a provide depth for the next team he joins.

The Spurs could use some perimeter scoring punch from a player who could contribute at either forward position. Thomas also has a close relationship with Spurs assistant Don Newman, with whom Thomas worked in Milwaukee. Thomas obviously loves the thought of playing alongside Tim Duncan, too, a player who would afford Thomas a legitimate opportunity to win a ring.

Thomas is intrigued by playing with Shaquille O'Neal for the same reason, but Miami seems a little deeper at forward than San Antonio, with Antoine Walker, Udonis Haslem and James Posey all logging major minutes. The Nets, meanwhile, would offer the three-time former Parade All-American an opportunity to play at home and with Vince Carter, one of Thomas' closest friends in the league. The Nets could also use an athletic alternative to power forward Nenad Krstic in the up-tempo system Lawrence Frank prefers.

As for Philadelphia, Thomas would enjoy a reunion with Allen Iverson, with whom Thomas played 1½ seasons under Larry Brown before he was traded to Milwaukee in February, 1999. Thomas still owns a home in Villanova, Pa., too, and spent some time recently working out with the second-ranked Wildcats. He has tried to stay fit at Paterson Catholic and the Paterson YMCA as well, but acknowledges that ample treadmill time doesn't equate to NBA game shape.

He is certain he still could contribute 20 meaningful minutes per game for one of the four aforesaid squads, but also realizes he is at the Bulls' mercy.

"I've had a chance to do things that I never could do before," Thomas said, "as far as spending a lot more time with my wife and kids during the season. I was around for all the holidays and that was great. It was an experience I appreciated, but at the same time, I would rather be playing."

--Keith Idec, Passaic Herald-News, February 23.

With the Heat about $2 million below the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax, utilizing the trade exception would likely preclude the later signing of a Sprewell, Lynch, Robinson or any other player who should come on the free-agent market after the trading deadline, such as Tim Thomas, Tony Delk or Voshon Lenard.

--Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 23.

One move a couple of teams hope that the Bulls make today is to waive Tim Thomas, whom Paxson sent home three games into the season. The Bulls are paying Thomas the approximately $14 million left on this, the last season of his contract.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the San Antonio Spurs will give Thomas a long look if he becomes available. The New Jersey Nets are also said to be willing to pick up Thomas, a Paterson, N.J., native, should he be let go by the Bulls. If Thomas is not waived by the Bulls before March 1, he cannot be on a team's playoff roster.

--Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times, February 23.

The Bulls will likely release Tim Thomas if they cannot strike a deal before Thursday's deadline. The Spurs have expressed some interest in signing him if his contract is bought out.

--Mitch Lawrence, Fox Sports, February 22.

The Nets also are hoping to sign Tim Thomas if or when the Bulls release him.

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 22.

If the Spurs are going to make any roster changes, they appear more likely to sign a player instead of trade for one.

With the NBA's trade deadline arriving at 2 p.m. Thursday, the Spurs don't have any deals imminent, though they continue to explore their options. Among the possibilities is signing swingman Tim Thomas if Chicago decides to waive him.

Spurs assistant coach Don Newman has a good relationship with Thomas from their days in Milwaukee. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also had tried to sign Thomas before he re-signed with the Bucks.

The Bulls acquired Thomas when they sent Eddy Curry to New York last summer, but he appeared in only three games. After Thomas complained more than once about his role, Chicago officials told him to spend the rest of the season at home in New Jersey while they worked to trade him.

Thomas is being paid $14 million this season, the final year of his contract.

The Spurs had success after signing Glenn Robinson late last season. Robinson, like Thomas, was not regarded as a hard worker or a defender, but did his best to fit in with the team.

While the Spurs can only sign Thomas if the Bulls release him, there is one notable swingman still available on the free-agent market: Latrell Sprewell.

Popovich had a good relationship with Sprewell when both were in Golden State. When the Spurs discussed trying to trade for Sprewell three summers ago, assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo said he would have no problem reuniting with the player who choked him.

"He's a fantastic competitor," Popovich said. "We've talked about him, and he's somebody I've thought about for a long time. But at this point we're not sure if taking on another person even makes sense or if he'd even be willing to do something like that."

Horry out: One reason the Spurs might try to add another player is their concern over Robert Horry's health.

Horry's hip was bothering him after Tuesday morning's shootaround, scrapping Popovich's plan to play him against Seattle.

--Johnny Ludden, San Antonio Express-News, February 22.

As for Tim Thomas, he has scored a grand total of 13 points this year and hasn't played since Nov. 14. These are not things I'm looking for in a basketball savior. Yes, he's got a big contract that expires, but I can't see Denver giving up nearly $14 million worth of players just to have added cap space in a summer with a so-so free agent crop. If they do land an expiring salary like Hardaway's or Thomas', it would more likely be to move it on to another team.

--Adam Thompson, Denver Post, February 21.

The Nets could also try to make an acquisition after the trade deadline, if the Chicago Bulls can't trade Tim Thomas' expiring contract. In that case, Chicago would try to buy him out, and Thomas would have his pick of interested teams. While far from being a defensive stalwart, the 6-10 small forward could help the Nets offensively.

--Bob Considine, White Plains Journal-News, February 21.

[I]n all fairness to general manager John Paxson, he had to do something with Curry, whose heart condition confused and undermined the future of the team, so he moved Curry to New York. In return, one of the all-time overrated players — Tim Thomas — came with his expiring huge contract. Unable to contribute on the floor, he has been deactivated and now there is a decent chance to move Thomas and either Ben Gordon or Chris Duhon for a valuable piece. They could wait and just allow Thomas' contract to end, but with one of the guards, they could acquire some much needed help at either power or small forward.

--Mike Kahn, Fox Sports, February 21.

Tim Thomas: Nets and Spurs will chase after Bulls waive him; Nets’ chances are good.

—Al Iannazzone, YES Network, February 20.

The Bulls are likely to retain Tim Thomas' $14 million salary through the deadline in order to reap the salary-cap relief his expiring deal will offer this summer. In the meantime, don't be surprised if they pursue other options this week.

--Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated, February 20.

SITTING BULL: Tim Thomas could end up in either New Jersey or Indiana if the Chicago Bulls decide to release the former Knick. Thomas, who is in the final year of his contract, was given permission to leave the Bulls in November.

--Mitch Lawrence & Frank Isola, New York Daily News, February 19.

If Marko Jaric and Eddie Griffin feel underused lately, imagine what Tim Thomas is going through as a Chicago Bull in drydock. Thomas is being paid $14 million this season, basically, not to play. The eight-year veteran - overpaid and underachieving, no doubt, but healthy and available these days - played a total of 32 minutes in three games for Chicago after being acquired in the Eddy Curry trade. He had ankle sprains in training camp and a sore back early in the regular season, but apparently turned off coach Scott Skiles more by complaining about his playing time and role.

The Bulls' stance is that Thomas doesn't fit their long-term plan. Thomas has been at home in New Jersey, sometimes dropping by Nets' games to lobby reporters for trade mentions. Word is, if he isn't dealt by Thursday's trading deadline, Chicago might cut him.

--Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 19.

Tim Thomas: Nobody has shown interest in taking on his $14 million just to get it off their cap, so Chicago looks stuck with him until he's waived in a week or two. He'll help somebody's playoff run.

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 19

The Nets hope they can...sign Tim Thomas if and when the Bulls buy out his contract or waive him.

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 19.

Should the Bulls be unable to unload Tim Thomas' expiring contract by the deadline, Chicago is expected to begin buyout talks to leave the forward eligible for another team's playoff roster by the March 1 cutoff. Thomas said his preference at that stage would be to sign with the Nets (he lives about 10 miles from the arena) or Spurs.

--Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 19

New Jersey will also monitor Tim Thomas' potential availability. The 6-10 forward, who's not exactly known for his defense, is seeking a buyout or trade from the Chicago Bulls.

--Bob Considine, Asbury Park Press, February 17.

While no one wants to steal the spotlight on all-star weekend — except Isiah Thomas, who obtained Tim Thomas on the day of the game two years ago — there will be all kinds of scuttlebutt around here.

--Doug Smith, Toronto Star, February 17.

[T]he Sixers are now holding a roster spot open in case Tim Thomas gets a buyout from Chicago.

--Chris Sheridan, ESPN Insider, February 17.

The Nets are trying to move Marc Jackson and Zoran Planinic, but haven't found any takers. They could deal either or both to a team under the cap for a draft pick or two, and then sign Tim Thomas if the Bulls waive him.

--Al Iannazone, The Record, February 16.

The Nets will continue to monitor Tim Thomas situation. If he is bought out by the Bulls, Thomas will be courted by his home-state Nets.

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 16.

Paxson would trade absentee forward Tim Thomas, but he has yet to receive an offer that makes sense for the Bulls, who do not want to take on long-term contracts worth the $14 million that Thomas is earning this season. His contract expires at the end of the season.

The New Jersey Nets reportedly would like to sign Thomas if Paxson waives or releases him after the trade deadline.

--Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times, February 16.

It appears Bulls forward Tim Thomas will collect the remainder of his $14 million salary this season at home.

According to one source, the chances Thomas will be moved before the NBA's Feb. 23 trade deadline were virtually nonexistent.

Thomas appeared in three games this season before he was dismissed from the team. His contract will expire after the season.

"We'll continue to talk to teams, but we won't make a trade just to make a trade," Bulls general manager John Paxson said. "It has to be a deal we believe will improve our team."

--Paul Ladewski, Daily Southtown, February 15.

The Bulls, already set with a talented young perimeter core, sent him home rather than have a potential cancer on the bench. Still, Thomas is a 6-foot10 sharpshooter who in the right circumstances might be able to help a contending team. In the final year of his contract, he comes at very low cost and risk. He claims the Nets and Spurs are interested, but it appears to be more wishful thinking on his part. Unless the Bulls can deal him for another player in the last year of his contract, they're likely to keep him and let his contract come off the books at the season's end.

--Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated, February 15.

The Nets are watching Tim Thomas' situation closely. If the Paterson native is waived or bought out by Chicago, they could sign him to a minimum contract for the rest of the season.

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 14.

Thorn also would not discuss Chicago's Tim Thomas, who has the Nets on his preferred teams list if he's bought out by Chicago. "I don't have any comment about him," Thorn said. "He's under contract with another team."

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 14.

Thorn wouldn't comment on Tim Thomas' interest in the Nets. The Bulls are shopping the idle forward in hopes of landing a few serviceable players that can match up with his $14 million salary. If they are unable to, they will probably release him after the trade deadline, though the Nets may not pursue him as vigorously as others who don't mind indifferent defenders.

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 14.

According to one sort-of-former Bull, the team could have celebrated more victories like Sunday's if he was allowed to play.

Forward Tim Thomas, who was acquired by the Bulls in October in the Eddy Curry deal, attended a New Jersey Nets game over the weekend and told the New York media that he should be playing big minutes for the Bulls.

"To tell a veteran player that he's going to have a hard time playing for you ... I look around and see there's no way possible I shouldn't be playing 30, 35 minutes a game at any position he can play me in," Thomas said referring to Skiles.

"But things happen. I'm ready to move forward. I wish something would happen sooner than later instead of sitting around. I'd rather be playing."

When Thomas' comments were relayed to Skiles, all he said was, "I didn't see that. I wasn't aware of it."

--John Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times, February 13.

The Chicago Bulls have had no luck in their efforts to move Tim Thomas and his expiring contract of nearly $14 million. The Bulls are expected to offer Thomas a buyout if they can't trade him, and he is hoping to sign with a playoff team prior to March 1, the deadline for players to eligible for the postseason.

--Chris Sheridan, ESPN, February 13.

Nine days before the deadline, the Bulls are trying to trade Thomas' contract for a couple of serviceable players. Failing that, the speculation is that they'll just release him later this month. But here's what you have to consider from Tim's perspective: If he's free to sign anywhere, and detects a lukewarm interest on the part of his local team, is the convenience of home more important than his desire to be a part of a good team's rotation? Because while he would undoubtedly be one of the most athletic guys on the Nets, there's no guarantee the coach would play him, and Thomas will know that up front. Reason: He doesn't defend, and L-Frank only plays guys who defend.

--Dave D'Alessandro, NJ.com, February 13.

There was a time when Tim Thomas wanted to fight any Net he could get his hands on. Now he wants to play for the Nets.

The former Knick and currently exiled Chicago Bull is waiting for the Bulls to trade him or buy his contract out so he can resume playing again. Thomas said if the Bulls buy him out, he sees no problem with playing with Jason Collins and the Nets, who play Milwaukee tonight. It was Collins' flagrant foul on Thomas in Game 1 of the 2004 first-round playoff series that sparked trash-talking between Thomas and the Nets. Kenyon Martin, whom Thomas memorably labeled as a "fugazy" tough guy, is now in Denver but Collins remains.

The Nets have talked to Thomas' agent, according to the forward. Thomas, who claimed he is considering the Spurs, played in just three games this season before being excused from the Bulls.

"That's done," Thomas said about Collins at Friday's Nets-Spurs game. "I don't respect what he did still, but it's done. We've got the same agent. He knows how to get in contact with me. If I wanted something done to him, I'm from Jersey, it's nothing but a phone call. I wish I was on (a) team at the time that somebody would have taken somebody else out like that. What can I say?"

--Ohm Youngmisuk, New York Daily News, February 12.

The hit Jason Collins gave Tim Thomas in the 2004 playoffs is not forgotten. But the Paterson native is willing to forgive.

Thomas, currently in exile from the Chicago Bulls, hopes to play for the Nets later this season. Even if it means he has to share a locker room with Collins, whose hard foul knocked the former Knick out of the first-round playoff series.

"I don't respect what he did still, but it's done," Thomas said. "[We've] got the same agent. He knows how to get in contact with me. If I wanted something done to him, I'm from Jersey, it's nothing but a phone call [away]. But that issue is a done deal."

His affinity with mob movies remains evident as Thomas jokingly suggested a hit on Collins. Days after he was taken out in 2004, Thomas called ex-Net Kenyon Martin a "fugazy" tough guy.

Thomas was at the Nets-Spurs' game Friday night, looking very much at home in a fur coat as he shook Vince Carter's hand, talked with fans and signed autographs.

Thomas is in limbo. He's waiting to see if the Bulls trade him before the Feb. 23 deadline. If not, he hopes they waive him or buy him out of the roughly $6 million he has left on his contract this season so he can join the team of his liking. Count the Nets, 76ers, Spurs and Pacers among them.

"I know on most teams I'll probably go in playing the power forward position, which is not a problem," said Thomas, who still has a place in New York and has been working out at Villanova. "I just want to go somewhere where I can fit in and help an organization as soon as possible."

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 12.

Disgruntled Bulls forward Tim Thomas was at the Nets-Spurs game Friday night. While it's far from a certainty the Chicago Bulls will trade the 6-10 forward to New Jersey or buy out the veteran to make him accessible, Thomas said he could co-exist with Collins.

As you may recall, Thomas collided with Collins in Game 1 of the Nets-Knicks playoff series in 2004 and suffered a back injury that kept him out the final three games of the Nets' sweep. Thomas felt Collins clotheslined him and was out for blood, calling the Nets' center a coward months later. Collins said he was going for the ball.

"That's over with," Thomas said.

--Bob Considine, Asbury Park Press, February 12.

Paterson native Tim Thomas was seated in the second row last night, still being paid by Chicago to stay home, still very anxious to get back to work, still befuddled by the Bulls' refusal to let him take part in what has been a disappointing season.

"To tell a veteran player that he's going to have a hard time playing for you ... I look around and see there's no way possible I shouldn't be playing 30, 35 minutes a game at any position he can play me in," the former Knick said of Chicago coach Scott Skiles. "But things happen, I'm ready to move forward. I wish something would happen sooner than later instead of sitting around. I'd rather be playing."

If Thomas can manage a buyout with the Bulls -- and he has roughly $6 million still coming to him this season -- he identified the Nets and Spurs as two teams he'd like to play for.

--Dave D'Alessandro, Star-Ledger, February 11.

POTENTIAL NET: Ex-Knick and Paterson native Tim Thomas sat courtside Friday night. He's a member of the Chicago Bulls, but he's been away from the team as it tries to either trade him or buy him out of his contract. If the latter happens, the Nets would be interested in signing him. The interest is mutual. Thomas said the Nets have talked to his agent.

"There's a lot of talk about New Jersey," Thomas said. "The Nets, they've been talking. But it's in Chicago's hands."

Thomas also said the Spurs were a possibility, but it is all up to Chicago.

--Al Iannazzone, The Record, February 11.

AGENT FOR CHANGE: Current exiled Bull Tim Thomas, in attendance last night, said his agent has talked to the Nets about joining them if he is bought out of his contract by Chicago. The former Knick forward played in just three games for the Bulls before leaving the team. If the Bulls can't trade him by the Feb. 23 trading deadline, they may buy him out.

--Ohm Youngmisuk, New York Daily News, February 11.

Bulls forward Tim Thomas watched the game from the second row and said that his agent and the Nets had been in contact. Thomas is signed with the Bulls, but he is essentially no longer a part of the team after the Bulls made it clear that they wanted to trade him. "I'm just ready to move forward," said Thomas, who has a home in New York and has recently practiced with Villanova's basketball team.

--Dave Picker, New York Times, February 11.

Ex-Knick Tim Thomas, waiting for a trade or buy-out from the Bulls, was at the game. Both the Nets and Spurs may have interest. "There's a lot of talk about New Jersey," Thomas said. "The Nets, they've been talking, but it's in Chicago's hands."

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 11.

There was also reason to believe that King was waiting to see whether the Chicago Bulls might waive or buy out former Sixer Tim Thomas by the Feb. 23 trading deadline. If that were to happen, a source confirmed that King might consider signing him to a minimum-salary contract.

Thomas, who played one season at Villanova, was a first-round draft choice of the New Jersey Nets and traded to the Sixers. He spent one full season with the Sixers, then was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks the following season.

Thomas has been on the Bulls' inactive list and appeared in only three games this season (4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10.7 minutes). He was acquired from the Knicks on Oct. 5 in the Eddy Curry deal.

--Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News, February 4.

D'Alessandro says Thomas, if waived, interests the Nets, adding "he can play some 4, but seems to be chemistry poison."

--Dave D'Alessandro, NJ.com, February 2.

Additionally, as the trading deadline nears, the Nets will keep a close eye on Tim Thomas and his situation with the Bulls. Thomas, who wanted a trade from Chicago, is working out in Philadelphia. Should the Bulls buy him out of his contract, the Nets will look at bringing him aboard.

--Fred Kerber, New York Post, February 2.

"The only thing I want to do is play basketball," Tim Thomas was saying by phone from New Jersey one day last week while the kids were fussing in the van on the way to Philadelphia. "Everything that happened from Day One, I don't really understand. I'm still confused about the whole situation. But I don't have anything bad to say about anybody [in Chicago]. I don't even remember how long I was there. I didn't make any relationships with anybody. Going into Chicago, I was excited. I've been in situations before that were not great (as far as winning). I know I can go out and do what I want [on the court] on a consistent basis. Chicago would have been a perfect situation for me."

Let bygones be bygones?

It doesn't look like it's going to happen.

"We agreed that Tim is at a different point in his career than the majority of our players, and it was mutually decided that he stay in N.Y. until we can get a deal done or the trade deadline passes," general manager John Paxson, out on a scouting trip, replied by e-mail. "I am aware that him not playing and not being visible to other teams doesn't help [our chances to trade him], but the reality is that we could possibly [still] have the opportunity to move him because of his one-year contract."

It remains one of the more curious stories in the NBA this season. Fans always scream for teams out of contention to play their younger players, so that's essentially what the Bulls, who wouldn't have signed Thomas after this season anyway, chose to do.

--Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune, January 23.

He averaged 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in just three games for the Bulls this season and said that the Nets and the Pacers were two teams he could potentially end up with before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. He has an $11 million expiring contract.

"I'll be somewhere by the end of the season," he said. "I was thinking that Chicago was going to do something sooner rather than later. If it doesn't happen this month, it will definitely happen next month."

--Adam Zagoria, Passaic Herald News, January 16.