CHARLOTTE — If Tyrus Thomas gets his way, the impending restricted free agent will stay in Charlotte.
Thomas said Tuesday that he wants to sign a long-term deal with the Bobcats, who acquired him from Chicago in a trade deadline deal in February.
“Most definitely, that’s my goal,” Thomas said by phone from Washington where he was to receive a public service award. “We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
General manager Rod Higgins said earlier this month that they’ll likely offer the 6-foot-10 power forward a one-year qualifying offer worth a little over $6 million to make him a restricted free agent.
“When we traded for him, he’s a guy that we envisioned going long-term with,” Higgins said.
Whether the Bobcats and Thomas can agree to a long-term deal after July 1 is uncertain. But Thomas seemed energized with being paired with demanding coach Larry Brown after ups and downs in Chicago.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 draft was suspended twice by the Bulls for conduct detrimental to the team and had been criticized for not reaching his potential.
That didn’t deter Brown from pushing for the deal that sent Flip Murray, Acie Law and a future first-round pick to the Bulls.
Thomas averaged 10.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 25 regular-season games with Charlotte and provided an athletic shot-blocker the team had been missing. Thomas closed the season with 21 points and nine rebounds in a loss to Orlando that completed the Magic’s first-round playoff sweep.
“They’re feeling like they’re excited about bringing me back, and I’m very excited about coming back,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can come to some agreement very, very soon.”
First up for Thomas was a night of accolades. He and Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha were to be honored with Jefferson Awards on Tuesday for their community service and volunteerism.
Thomas’ nonprofit organization Tyrus Thomas Inc. provides numerous services to disadvantaged youths in Thomas’ hometown of Baton Rouge, La.
“My grandmother and my mom raised me, and we were on the less fortunate end of the economic system,” Thomas said. “It’s just something I wanted to do for the kids. I went to school with their brothers and their sisters.
“Basically, it gets kids out of their element and exposes them to things they may not be exposed to. Things that the average person would take for granted.”