As reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, the Heat have extended a qualifying offer to Mario Chalmers who can be come a restricted free agent this summer.
What does this mean?
As a second-round pick of the 2008 draft, Chalmers was eligible to hit the free agency market this summer. But under league rules, the Heat maintain the option of offering a one-year contract Chalmers, who averaged 6.4 points, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game during the regular season. If he takes it, he remains with the team for one season and can hit the market after 2011-12. If he doesn't take the qualifying offer, the Heat own the right to match any offer that another team extends his way this summer (which is the "restricted" part of restricted free agency).
Chalmers will likely turn down the qualifying offer from the Heat, allowing him to net a multi-year deal this summer. Although he may end up back with the Heat, his strong NBA Finals play probably raised his pricetag considerably -- maybe too high for the Heat. It's worth noting that the upcoming CBA negotiations may change his status all together.
With Mike Bibby's contract expiring, the Heat have a hole at point guard heading into next season. But since LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both have the ability to handle the rock, the void at the center position may be a higher priority for the Heat.
Chalmers was the Heat's fourth best player in the playoffs according to player efficiency rating (PER), even outscoring Wade in Game 6 with 18 points.
He may cause headaches for the Heat, but it may be more painful going forward without him.