SACRAMENTO - Where have you gone, Kenny Thomas?
Whatever happened to the hard-rebounding power forward the 76ers coveted so much when he played for the Houston Rockets? The guy who averaged 13.6 points and 10.1 rebounds for the 76ers in 2003-04 and 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in '04-05? The guy who had 24 points and 20 rebounds March 31, 2003, in Orlando and 20 rebounds April 10 of that same season in Boston?
Now? He barely plays for the Kings. He has appeared in 21 of 28 games, averaging about 13 minutes, less of late.
He was scoreless in last night's 92-80 Sixers' victory. Thomas hadn't scored at all since Dec. 14, when he had two points in the 109-99 victory in Philadelphia.
"I'm not playing," Thomas said, suggesting that a reporter ask coach Reggie Theus for an explanation. "I really don't know what to say. I'm not playing at all. I'm still me. You've got to ask him."
Thomas is the last vestige of the blockbuster trade in February 2005 in which the Sixers sent him, Brian Skinner and Corliss Williamson to the Kings for Chris Webber, Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes.
Theus' explanation for Thomas' inactivity was that Ron Artest, until being diagnosed yesterday with a chipped bone in his right elbow, was the Kings' primary effective post player, starting at small forward, then coming back in the rotation at power forward.
The frontcourt rotation includes starters Brad Miller and Mikki Moore, and former Sixer John Salmons is getting minutes at both backcourt spots and small forward, so there has been little time for Thomas. Even in Wednesday night's 89-69 loss to the Boston Celtics, he got only 8 minutes.
"Kenny's been very professional," Theus said. "I know it's tough for him. It's nice to know we have someone there [if necessary]. He's been practicing hard, not saying [negative] things. He hasn't lost his skills."
Just his spot. *