AT&T CENTER – Back on December 3, 2013, the San Antonio Spurs signed Malcom Thomas for a short period of time. After five assignments with the Austin Toros and playing in one game with San Antonio, Thomas was released on January 23, 2014. The following day, the team signed guard Othyus Jeffers to a 10-day contract in hopes of addressing the loss of Kawhi Leonard to injury .
Thomas was picked up off waivers by the Jazz two days after being released from San Antonio, and he’s been with Utah since. Before the Spurs defeated the Jazz on Sunday, I caught up with Thomas, who told me about how the season has gone in Utah, what he learned from San Antonio, and why Kawhi Leonard’s hand injury had a part to do with him being waived by San Antonio.
“It’s been good with this organization,” said Thomas of his time recently with Utah. “The Spurs organization teaches you so much about being a professional that when you go somewhere else, you already know what to do, and what to expect.”
“I’m just staying patient,” continued Thomas, “but it was cool to be back there (on the other side).”
If you recall, being with San Antonio was the second time in Thomas’ career.
Thomas was a former teammate of Leonard when the two played at San Diego State University in their collegiate years. I asked Thomas if he spoke with Leonard when Leonard missed close to two months of play with his right hand injury, after injuring his hand in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 22.
“I got to talk to him a little bit about it. It was funny because we have the same agent,” chuckled Thomas, “and my agent was giving him a hard time because he got hurt, and they had to sign a guard which is why they let me go. My agent was just giving him a hard time, saying it was his fault and all that.”
Since returning to the lineup, the Spurs have won 10-games in a row with Leonard. Before winning their 10th straight, Thomas said it was Leonard’s eagerness to play while sitting out that has probably led to his aggressive play of late. Since his return from injury, Leonard is averaging 13.7 points, shooting 54.3% from the field, shooting 51.9% from three, grabbing 6.6 rebounds, collecting 2.0 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game.
“You know his attitude, he’s a competitor,” Thomas said of Leonard. “Him sitting out probably made him itch to get back out there. That’s just in his nature.”