With Cody Zeller moving into the Charlotte Bobcats’ lineup, Byron Mullens might be out.
The Bobcats won’t make a qualifying offer of about $4 million to Mullens to restrict his free-agency this summer, according to president of basketball operations Rod Higgins. That means the team is giving up its option to match any other team’s offer to the 7-foot forward-center, who spent the past two seasons in Charlotte.
Charlotte will extend a qualifying offer to shooting guard Gerald Henderson, Higgins said.
With Zeller having similar “stretch 4’’ qualities at power forward – meaning shooting range out to the 3-point line – re-signing Mullens became less of a priority. Mullens averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, starting half the team’s 82 games.
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The Bobcats’ decision doesn’t preclude them from re-signing Mullens, but now Mullens can treat the Bobcats like any of the other 29 teams in his search for a second NBA contract.
Acquired in a 2011 trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mullens started strong last season before suffering a severe ankle sprain in late December. He missed about a month, then never quite regained his form.
The Bobcats made a February trade for power forward Josh McRoberts, who beat out Mullens for the starting job late in the season. McRoberts is an unrestricted free agent, and said money – wherever that leads him – was his priority in choosing a team.
Summer league: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said Friday that veterans Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor will join rookie Zeller on the summer league team in Las Vegas, starting July 12.
In addition, Clifford said, point guard Kemba Walker wants to work out with the summer-league roster when practices start July 7 at Time Warner Cable Arena. The team will fly to Las Vegas the evening of July 10.
The Bobcats reached out to Duke’s Seth Curry, the son of team broadcaster Dell, about a summer league spot after he went undrafted Thursday.
Curry’s agent, Jeff Austin, told the Observer Friday that Seth was just cleared to start full physical activity after surgery this spring to stabilize a stress fracture in his leg. Austin said it’s impossible for Curry to be physically ready to play games in mid-July.
Austin said they’d certainly be receptive if the Bobcats are interested in bringing Curry, a guard with great 3-point range, to training camp in October.
The Bobcats are still finalizing their summer roster, but guards Troy Daniels of Virginia Commonwealth and Brandon Triche of Syracuse are both strong possibilities.