CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After four years of seemingly never-ending knee and weight issues, Sean May faces an uncertain summer as an unrestricted free agent after the Charlotte Bobcats decided not to make a qualifying offer to their former first-round pick.
Plagued first by chronic knee pain that led to microfracture surgery, May struggled to get into proper playing shape last season for coach Larry Brown, who refused to play the 6-foot-9 power forward for long stretches until he lost weight.
Appearing in only 82 of a possible 328 games since being the 13th pick in the 2005 draft, the Bobcats declined to give May a one-year, $3.7 million offer that would have made him a restricted free agent.
"I think it's a combination of things," general manager Rod Higgins said Tuesday. "I think there's production that comes into play. That with the addition of salary, for us it just didn't make sense for that commitment right now for what we're trying to do with the team."
Higgins didn't rule out trying to re-sign May, but it would surely be for less than the qualifying offer. The Bobcats have little depth behind starting power forward Boris Diaw and Bobcats officials have been monitoring May's offseason workouts.
"If you look at our roster you see where we have a need for a player at the power forward spot," Higgins said. "The conversation and communication with Sean and his representatives are ongoing. We can go back in free agency and still sign Sean."
May's agent, Arn Tellem, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. May will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and will be free to sign with any team a week later.
While the market for May is uncertain, the Bobcats took the next step in keeping point guard Raymond Felton. Higgins said the Bobcats have officially made a one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer. That makes Felton a restricted free agent, allowing the Bobcats to match any offer he receives from another team.
"Our plans all along were to first qualify and then to negotiate and get Raymond signed to a contract," Higgins said.
The Bobcats' plans with May were far from certain until this week. Brown openly wondered last month what they'd do with May, who led North Carolina to the NCAA national championship in 2005.
He and Felton received much fanfare when they were Charlotte's first-round picks less than three months later. But May had the first of three surgeries on his right knee in training camp that fall. After playing in just 23 games as a rookie, his season ended with a second surgery.
May played in only 35 games a year later because of continued pain, which led to microfracture surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2007-08 season.
May acknowledged he got depressed when he wasn't playing that season and his weight soared to more than 300 pounds. He dropped some weight before the start of training camp last fall, but struggled badly after starting the season opener in Cleveland.
He soon fell out of favor with Brown, who placed him on the inactive list for long stretches. He then told May he wouldn't play him until he got down to 260 pounds.
May ended up appearing in only 24 games, averaging 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds. But after the season he was confident he'd eventually show his potential in the NBA.
"I don't know whether it's here or somewhere, somebody is going to be happy," May said. "I'm feeling great, I'm confident and my knee is healthy."
May has spent the offseason at North Carolina taking classes, working out and playing pickup games.