The Charlotte Bobcats have extended Tyrus Thomas the qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, and allowing them the option of matching any contract offer another team may send his way. Though this was a widely expected move, it lays to rest any doubt about whether or not the Cats would try to keep Thomas or pursue cheaper options in free agency.
The Cats are now slated to pay Thomas $6.25 million this season, pending any kind of extended contract, and you can be sure that in this uncertain climate -- CBA, broader national economy, et cetera -- there will be few, if any, teams willing to pay Thomas that much money for more than one season.
Assuming Thomas does return to Charlotte this year, here's hoping he gets as much playing time as Boris Diaw. As much as Diaw may add with his passing,ability to stretch the floor with threes,. and his merely good defense, the total package isn't as intriguing as Thomas's excellent defense and ability to run the floor and rebound like mad (Boris's biggest weakness). If another coach were running the team, it might be cut and dry that Thomas would start, since he's such a blend of Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson (both good and bad attributes), but in Larry Brown's system, Diaw's skill set is probably a better fit, making it a matchup question.
On a minor note, this likely means the end of Derrick Brown playing power forward, though a super-small lineup with Thomas at nominal center could be exciting. (He's got a standing reach higher than Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Kevin Love, to name a few bigs who've seen lots of time at the nominal center position.)