<
>

Ely signs one-year, $3 million offer with Bobcats

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Melvin Ely signed a one-year, $3 million
qualifying offer with the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday after turning
down offers from Golden State and Phoenix.

Ely, a 6-foot-10 power forward, had until Sunday to accept the
Bobcats' offer or work out a sign-and-trade deal with another team.
Ely said the Suns were prepared to give him a multiyear deal while
the Warriors were offering a one-year contract.

"They both had interest in me. It was a good thing," Ely said
"It's happy to be loved, but I didn't feel comfortable making a
move. I know Charlotte is home to me, so I came back."

But Ely, who averaged a career-best 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds
last season, will face stiff competition for playing time with the
Bobcats, who welcome back Emeka Okafor and Sean May from
season-ending injuries. The Bobcats also signed Walter Herrmann of
Argentina last month, who is expected to play both forward
positions.

"Melvin's here. He'll compete and it just makes camp more
competitive, which is what we wanted anyway," Bobcats coach and
general manager Bernie Bickerstaff said. "No promises have been
made to Melvin about minutes or any of those things."

Ely, acquired by Charlotte in a trade with the Los Angeles
Clippers in 2004, ended up starting 22 games last season when the
Bobcats were hit with numerous injuries on the front line.

"It was a crowd last year and I ended up with time, so God
willing I'll come into camp and earn it," Ely said. "I know what
I need to do here to get time on the floor."

The move means the Bobcats have 16 players with guaranteed
contracts and 15 roster spots available once the regular season
begins.

Ely acknowledged he turned down the security of a multiyear
contract for the comforts of playing with the Bobcats.

"Hopefully I can play well this year and make Charlotte my
permanent home," Ely said.