Would Bruins use potential 'amnesty clause' on Thomas?

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Would Bruins use potential 'amnesty clause' on Thomas?

One interesting wrinkle to the extended talks between the NHL and NHLPA this week has been the mention of a contract amnesty provision.

Contract amnesty is something many assumed would be mentioned at some point, as the two sides finally settled down to the business of a new CBA. The New York Posts Larry Brooks indicated the subject was broached this week.

While infamously wasteful NHL contracts, like those to Rick DiPietro and Wade Redden, would be at the top of the amnesty candidates list for the Islanders and Rangers if it became a one-time CBA feature, it begs a different question altogether for the Boston Bruins:

Would Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli be tempted to use the contract amnesty feature to buy out goaltender Tim Thomas after he headed straight for his Colorado bunker after last season?

It was a downward spiral for the 38-year-old goaltender after he skipped the team's White House visit in honor of their Stanley Cup championship last January. Then Thomas decided he was going to skip the 2012-13 NHL season to get reconnected with friends, faith and family, according to his own Facebook post, and train for a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics squad.

Some have given Thomas "attaboys" for being ahead of the NHL lockout curve, and credited the Cup Finals hero with seeing the work stoppage coming ahead of time. But it appears more and more likely there will be an NHL regular season in 2012-13, and it could start as early as Dec. 1. Thomas isnt expected to have a change of heart about playing, and the Bruins will attempt to trade his contract to another NHL team once the new CBA is activated.

But wait.

Theres also discussion of lowering the salary cap floor for NHL teams that are under water financially, and those were the exact teams the Bruins had targeted for a Thomas deal prior to the lockout.

So the cap-floor seeking teams may dry up under the guidelines of a new CBA. If that happens and the Bruins put Thomas on the suspended list, then the amnesty buyout clause will give the Bruins a chance to get his onerous 5 million cap hit off their books. This could be particularly important if the salary cap drops in the first few seasons of the CBA, and potentially hurts a Bruins team thats already spent 65.2 million this upcoming season and has 57.1 million committed for 2013-014.

The million dollar question is this: Would Bruins ownership decide to pay off the final year of the Thomas contract to get him off their books?

That would free him to sign with another team without the Bs seeing any trade value in return. But theres also been no indication that Thomas has been working out with a return to hockey in mind for this season, and his Facebook account has been silent since the beginning of August. An amnesty clause might finally allow the Black and Gold to close the chapter on a goalie who turned his back on them months ago.

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Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

WALTHAM, Mass. –  As the fourth quarter rolls around, you will occasionally catch Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas looking down at his wrist, a gesture to remind anyone watching what time it is – Thomas time.

There are those who elevate their play in the fourth quarter of games, and then there’s Thomas who continues to smoothly navigate his way in unchartered fourth quarter scoring territory.

The Celtics begin the second half of the season Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, and there sits Thomas atop all players in the NBA when it comes to fourth-quarter scoring.

But that’s not all.

He’s not only dropping more points than any other NBA player in the most important quarter of them all, but he’s doing so at an unprecedented level of 10.1 fourth-quarter points per game.

Since NBA.com/stats began tracking fourth quarter scoring with the 1997-1998 season, no player has averaged more than 9.5 fourth-quarter points (LeBron James, 2006) in a season.

What makes Thomas’ fourth quarter heroics so impressive is that everyone in the building – fans, coaches, opponents – knows that’s when he’s looking to be most impactful for the Celtics and yet he still can’t be stopped.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged how tough it is to limit Thomas despite knowing he’s looking to take over games in the fourth.

“It’s hard because the blitz game is impossible because they don’t roll,” said Clifford whose Hornets were beaten 108-98 by Boston on Monday. “If you watch the teams that try to blitz them, you’re going to give up basically lay-ups. We had things in to get the ball out of his hands but the way they played and the stuff that they usually go to late, they didn’t get to. He (Thomas) made some terrific plays; he’s a terrific offensive player.”

Despite what he does in the fourth and his overall scoring average of 28.2 points which is ranked among the league’s leaders, there are still lots of doubters as to how good Thomas.

Regardless of how you view his play, he has consistently played at a level this season that places him among the game’s best players.

And at the rate he’s scoring in the fourth quarter, he’s establishing himself as one of the great closers in the game.

Consider the list of players in the past decade who led the league in points scored in the fourth quarter.

  • 2016: James Harden (7.7)
  • 2015: Russell Westbrook (7.1)
  • 2014: Kevin Durant (7.9)
  • 2013: Kevin Durant (8.4)
  • 2012: Kevin Durant (7.3)
  • 2011: Amare Stoudemire (7.1)
  • 2010: LeBron James (8.0)
  • 2009: LeBron James (7.7)
  • 2008: LeBron James (9.1)
  • 2007: Dwyane Wade (8.2)

You have All-stars, All-NBA First Teamers, league MVPs as well as a few future Hall of Famers.

As good as those players were in their respective seasons, when the game mattered most – the fourth quarter – Thomas numbers (for now at least) stand head and shoulders above them all.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens gives Thomas a lot of credit for being such a consistent scorer, particularly in the fourth quarter.

But as good as Thomas is, he’s not out there getting all these baskets on his own, either.

“It says a lot about the fact that he’s got a lot of skilled guys around him that are hard to leave,” Stevens said. “When you’re playing Kelly (Olynyk) and Jonas (Jerebko) together with him, there’s a lot of space on the floor to operate. When those guys are at the four (power forward) and five (center), when you’re playing guys like Al Horford who can space the floor or Avery (Bradley) or Jae (Crowder), you know, those types of guys … at the end of the day I think that it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

And for opponents, a lot of problems.

“He’s been playing well,” Hornets guard Kemba Walker said of Thomas. “He’s been playing better than anyone in our league. He’s playing with great confidence and making the plays for his team to win games. He’s been great.”