After starting their inaugural season 4-7, the NBDL’s Austin Toros have caught fire, winning 16 of their next 22. Julius Hodge already earned a brief NBA call-up with Denver, and the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Allesandro writes that F Marcus Fizer (above) might be the next Toro to hit the big show this season.

Tim Thomas admits he was given two choices by the Chicago Bulls: Stay out of the Eastern Conference, and you get all the money that’s coming to you; or give up millions if you want to sign with the Nets, if we let you out of your contract at all.

Those were the options, as Thomas understood them yesterday.

And now the question is whether Chicago GM John Paxson broke a rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement pertaining to circumvention, which prohibits verbal agreements of any kind with player contracts.

There is plausible deniability, however, because once the Phoenix Suns called, Thomas said he had no decision to make at all, and he now says he wasn’t disappointed he couldn’t play for the Nets.

“I feel they’re paying me for not wanting to go an Eastern Conference team,” Thomas said yesterday, after the Bulls waived him and gave him every penny remaining on his $14 million contract. “It worked out for the best.”

The Suns waived Jimmy Jackson yesterday to make room for Thomas, but the Nets aren’t interested in the 35-year-old journeyman wing. Instead, they are going to look into NBDL options, and the D-League’s Player of the Week, Marcus Fizer, has come up in some internal discussions.