Thomas Excited For Minnesota
In perhaps the least-talked-about move among the three trades the front office made a couple of weeks ago, the Lynx acquired veteran Christi Thomas from Los Angeles in exchange for Vanessa Hayden.
Thomas, the five-year veteran post, takes time out to discuss her thoughts on the trade, her expected role with her new team and her expectations for 2009.
Lynxbasketball.com: First off, where were you when you first heard about the trade and what were your initial thoughts on coming to Minnesota?
Christi Thomas: I was leaving workouts and saw that my agent had called me. I called him back and he told me on Wednesday that it would probably be going through! On Friday, I was visiting my new God baby and my agent told me it was official. I was very exited and relieved because of all the anticipation.
LB.COM: Talk a little bit about your career in the WNBA... you injured your knee in 2008, causing you to sit out the final 13 games, including all of the playoffs. Are you healthy now and injury-free?
CT: I hadn't missed significant time until this past year, but I know that not having any nagging things allows you to do more and to get better. I have been frustrated a little from those situations, but it makes me more determined. I am healthy now and looking forward to an injury-free season in Minnesota — hopefully this is the end of the injury bug for the rest of my career.
LB.COM: Coach Zierden spoke volumes about your versatility and ability to play a variety of different roles on the court. What role do you think your game is best suited for and in what system do you think you thrive in the most? Does Minnesota's system fit well with your style of play?
CT: I'm someone who just tries her hardest to do what the coach asks of me or whatever the team needs at that moment. If I have to take an aggressive role, I can. I really like to play off of other players though. I think that will be helpful since there are some exciting guards on the team, as well as some great, young post players.
LB.COM: Back in 2007 when L.A. played without Lisa Leslie, your role increased, and you did not disappoint; averaging a career-high 8.4 ppg and 5.3 rpg. When given the opportunity, you've proven you can produce. How excited are you to finally move to a situation that seemingly will result in more playing time for you?
CT: I am very excited to have a better opportunity to play. I think it's important to find a place where you can fit in and be used to your strengths. I am excited to be able to grow as a player. When you have a little bit of freedom and breathing room, I think that allows you to discover other aspects and qualities of your game.
LB.COM: At the same time, there's no doubt that playing behind Olympian Lisa Leslie for four years taught you a thing or two. What have you learned from the future Hall of Famer that you hope to bring with you to Minnesota?
CT: Lisa's work ethic is relentless. That is the thing that sticks out the most to me. Even if she is not playing well, she never stops working hard and she never stops leading! She leads by example!!! I hope that I can do that in Minnesota as well. She has helped me a lot in both the mental and physical aspects of the game. She is an unbelievable player and I have been privileged to play behind her the last few years. I hope that I can pay it forward with my new team!
LB.COM: Watching players like Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins... what can you say about Minnesota's boatload of young talent? What kind of leadership can you provide to the younger players? Do you see yourself taking a leadership role on this team?
CT: I see myself taking whatever role is needed. I have been on every side now. I have been a leader in college, a role player, and I have watched from the sidelines. I think that it has helped me become well-rounded. I can fit into whatever role Coach Z needs me to fill! I am excited to be among such great young players. I just want to be a good teammate and hopefully help them to better themselves along the way.
LB.COM: Where are you at now and what are you doing to prepare for the upcoming 2009 WNBA season?
CT: I am currently in Atlanta. I am constantly rehabbing my knee (Aug. 2008 surgery) and working out. I rehab at 8:00 a.m. three days a week and I workout five days a week. My workouts consist of different things: Speed, agility, and quickness drills; weight lifting and, of course, basketball stuff. Hopefully I will be headed to Minnesota about a month before training camp to start learning the ins and outs of my new system and to workout with the coaching staff.
LB.COM: What do you expect for the Lynx in 2009? With the additions of Kelly Miller and yourself, it looks like the front office is trying to add a little more playoff experience to the roster. Is it a fair to say that the Lynx should make the playoffs in 2009?
CT: First, I am so excited to be reunited with my former teammate Kelly! We played together at Georgia so I am glad to be with another former Lady Bulldog! Kelly is a great point guard and it will be exciting to see her again, but I do think that the playoff experience that we have will be helpful. The playoffs are a whole different ballgame. I think we will be able give some insight into how things will be and the atmosphere, as well as being able to lead during those stressful times. I think the front office has put us in a great position player-wise to make it to the playoffs. Now it is up to the players and the coaching staff to put it all together. I am confident that we can make that happen!