Cam Thomas wanted his chance. Now he has one.
With Kyrie Irving being suspended for at least five matches for what the Nets have described as “team detrimental behavior,” there is now a desperate need to score points on the Brooklyn court and Thomas, a gifted bucket picker, can do just that.
You don’t have to be a super detective to figure out that Thomas is unhappy with his role in rotating the Net.
On live TV last season, he rolled his eyes away when asked about criticism from his former head coach Steve Nash. More recently, as the statuses of “DNP – Coach’s Decision” grew, he switched his Instagram biography to #FreeCT with the handcuffs emoji (before switching to the Joker emoji in the card deck) and posted a clip from the smash hit FX show. Snowfall, in which the main character, Franklin, explains to his mother that mercy did not bring him the expected results.
Thomas’ frustration is in his habits: by entering Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, he has made only three appearances this season, playing zero minutes. He played 13 minutes in Brooklyn’s embarrassing defeat at the opening of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans, and in two other games against the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks, he played just a minute of garbage time.
And yet Thomas couldn’t have imagined his chance would have come this way: Irving’s suspension immediately created an opportunity for Thomas, an opening that could last more than five games if Irving did not meet the criteria for returning to the game.
These criteria – after linking to the deeply anti-Semitic film “Hebrews for Negroes: Wake up Black America” on their social channels – include meeting with Brooklyn’s Jewish leaders, training sessions on the dangers of hate speech, the public acknowledgment of the film is anti-Semitic and an apology for supporting the movie and the lies it contains, according to ESPN.
These tasks could take Irving much longer than five games to complete, which would – at the earliest – allow him to play again in Los Angeles on November 13 against the Lakers.
This makes Thomas even more relevant in Brooklyn. Irving’s absence creates a need that Thomas fills, which is a field he tests because point abilities have never been questioned. He has proven he can generate an offensive at every level: in college, in the summer league and in regular games.
It’s time for Thomas. For a second-year security guard, it was always about paying dues on the basis of the schedule in his position.
Irving plays the lion’s share of minutes in front defense, but also ahead of Thomas, they overtake Edmond Sumner, Patty Mills and sharpshooter Seth Curry, who is recovering from an off-season ankle surgery. Sumner, who ended the season with an Achilles injury, has already jumped over Thomas in the Brooklyn rotation to replace the suspended Irving. Even the untapped second-year forward David Duke Jr. gets fixed minutes in the Nets rotation.
And Thomas can’t complain if he doesn’t take the opportunity in front of him. There is no level of backstage grumbling to make up for not being ready to be the skilled shooter the Nets need to get stronger and stay as they demand an offensive threat while Irving is out of the line.
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