Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thomas Returns to Practice

Veteran Sonics center Kurt Thomas, who has missed the first six games of the season after suffering a strained right hamstring in practice just before the season, returned to practice Saturday. If he responds well, Thomas could make his Sonics debut Sunday against Detroit.

"We'll see what he feels like," said Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo. "If he feels good and (Athletic trainer) Mike (Shimensky) and the doctors say he's good, we'll give him some time tomorrow."

Thomas as part of the Sonics rotation at center could be part of the changes Carlesimo is expected to make on Sunday. The coaching staff has anticipated looking at different rotations and combinations over stretches of the early season because there are so many competitive positions on the roster. After giving the current group six games, it's time for a slightly different look.

"We'll see who's available, and then we'll see what we're going to do," said Carlesimo.

"The changes won't be wholesale changes - it will be a guy or two guys or something like that. And we'll tweak the minutes for a couple of people. There's some guys who have been getting more minutes, say, than somebody else. Now we'll try to bend it a little bit."

Another player who is likely to see a bigger role in coming games is point guard Luke Ridnour. The facemask Ridnour was wearing to protect his broken nose was a major factor in Carlesimo's decision to leave Ridnour out of the rotation early in the season. (Ridnour has played 11.3 minutes per game, but has not played in two of the six games.) Nearing five weeks since he broke his nose, Ridnour is able to ditch the facemask, which he did not wear during practice.

"His minutes are definitely going to go up in the near future," Carlesimo said. "Whether that's tomorrow or not, I can't say."

As for Thomas, his return to the lineup - whenever it comes - will be a major positive for the Sonics.

"I'm not sure what is realistic that he can bring immediately after basically not playing for nine days," said Carlesimo, "but when he's healthy, he brings a veteran player who's one of the better shooting bigs in the league, who's a very capable of physical post defender and somebody who's very experienced with a lot of savvy.

"People can have positive minutes, they can have negative minutes or they can be out there and not really tremendously affect you either way. At worst, Kurt's going to give us flat minutes. That alone is a plus. You're not going to get five guys giving you positive minutes all the time, but as long as you minimize people giving you negative minutes, that really helps."