- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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Earlier this month, Chandler was seriously considering exercising an early termination option this summer, according to a source close to the situation. Had he done so, Chandler would have forfeited the remaining $12.6 million he was due from the Bobcats.
Chandler, 27, had his best statistical year during the 2007-08 season, averaging 11.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. At the time, he was considered one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. However, Chandler has struggled with injuries the last two seasons in New Orleans and Charlotte.
Chandler is now totally healthy and working out in California to prepare for the 2010-11 season, a source close to Chandler said.
"He's gotten all of his issues taken care of," the source said, "and he's gearing up to have a big year next season. I think you're going to see the same Tyson who played so well for the Hornets a few years ago."
With so many teams under the salary cap for next season and only a few teams able to land top-tier free agents like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, it stood to reason that Chandler, with his injury problems apparently behind him, might have landed a lucrative free-agent deal.
But despite the enticements to opt out, Chandler couldn't be assured of anything. Teams cannot negotiate with player agents until 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday, meaning Chandler would have been forced to opt out without any guarantees that he would make back the salary he'd forfeit by walking away.
Chandler's return to the Bobcats does not, however, mean he'll be wearing a Bobcats uniform next season. Sources say that the Bobcats have explored a number of trade scenarios and that there's a good possibility he could be moved this summer.
The decision just before Wednesday's deadline gives the Bobcats stability in the middle heading into next season, but little salary-cap space to work with during free agency.
After giving Tyrus Thomas a one-year, $6.2 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, the Bobcats have nearly $67 million committed to 11 players for next season. That includes an extra $1 million for bonuses Gerald Wallace received for making the All-Star team ($500,000) and all-defensive team ($500.000) that will count toward next season's cap.
With the luxury tax projected to kick in around $68-69 million -- and with Jordan stating publicly he won't exceed it -- Felton's future in Charlotte looks bleak.
His uneven career -- and major struggles in the playoffs -- don't help him, either.
Felton averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 assists while shooting a career-best 46 percent from the field last season. But he was then thoroughly outplayed by Orlando's Jameer Nelson in Charlotte's first-round playoff sweep.
General manager Rod Higgins has called Felton's impending unrestricted free agency a "delicate subject." The team has no meetings set up with Felton, who has changed agents and is now represented by Tony Dutt.
"Raymond is looking forward to continuing his career where ever it might be, as he understands the business," Dutt said. "I also know he loves the fans in Charlotte."
Chad Ford is an ESPN NBA Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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