Former Ohio State star DeShaun Thomas will spend his rookie season in France, according to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch. Thomas, drafted with the 58th pick in June’s draft by the San Antonio Spurs, had the option to go to camp and try to make their roster, but his spot (and his salary) wasn’t guaranteed. A father with a 17-month old child, Thomas opted for the guaranteed salary in France over potentially spending the year in the D-League. The Spurs, a perennial contender who were five seconds away from winning the NBA title last season, don’t have roster spots that they can set aside for rookies who may not be able to contribute right away.
The Spurs have done this with previous draft picks, not just second rounders like Thomas, age 21. Both Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter both spent time overseas before coming to the NBA. The Spurs will retain Thomas’ negotiating rights while he plays in Europe next season.
Thomas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer last season, led San Antonio’s Summer League team with 12.4 points and 5 boards per contest.