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Tyson Chandler will return to Bobcats, the song remains the same

Apr 3, 2010, 2:10 PM EST

There is a lot of excitement about the Bobcats in Charlotte right now — they are about to make the playoffs for the first time ever. That’s a big deal. Legitimately big milestone.

And the Queen City fans there love this roster. Which is good, because it’s basically the one they will see next year.

Last night Tyson Chandler told FanHouse he was going to pick up his $13.2 million option for next season. Smart move on his part, because while there would be interest in Chandler from other teams, he’d make maybe half that salary. If you put the money on the table in front of he man, he’d be a fool not to take it.

But that ties the team’s hands in terms of making any easy improvements for next season.

The team is now committed to $59 million in salary for 2010-11, putting them over the salary cap and unable to offer anything more than the mid-level exception next summer. Which will net them a nice, mid-level player, if they decide to use it. (Can Michael Jordan afford it? With the poor cash flow and debt he took on, we really don’t know.) They do not have a draft pick (they gave their first-rounder to Minnesota two years ago to get Alexis Ajinca, then Denver traded that pick to the Timberwolves for Ty Lawson, meaning that Denver looks like the smart one now).

If they don’t extend the qualifying offer and strike a deal with Tyrus Thomas, they could open up a couple million to spend. But the move here might be to make the one-year offer and hope that Thomas, in a contract year, finds the consistent mental motivation and focus that has been lacking so far. Yea, we know, probably not, but isn’t all that potential worth the bet?

Raymond Felton is a free agent, but he wants to return to Charlotte and as long as the price doesn’t get out of control that’s a good guy to get back. Some minor guys come off the roster like Theo Ratliff and Larry Hughes, but the core remains the same.

All that means… nothing much changes. Which isn’t bad — this is a good team, a very good defensive team, a playoff team, the best team in Bobcats history. But don’t expect a leap forward to the elite next season.

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