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Bulls to let Thomas become free agent

With no more contract extension talks planned with the Chicago Bulls, forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, Yahoo! Sports has confirmed.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman and Thomas’ agent, Brian Elfus, had discussed broad parameters of a contract extension in recent months, but both sides said there won’t be any more talks prior to the Monday deadline.

The Bulls will have significant salary-cap space available for the summer of 2010, and aren’t inclined to reward Thomas with an extension like his 2006 draft classmate, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) (five years, $65 million). The Utah Jazz also signed forward Paul Millsap(notes), a second-round pick in 2006, to a new four-year, $32 million contract this summer.

Thomas, 23, was the fourth overall pick three years ago, and has steadily matured and begun to show signs of fulfilling his vast promise. Forman has maintained that Thomas, a 6-foot-9 power forward, is part of the franchise’s core group with Derrick Rose(notes) and Luol Deng(notes).

Thomas had his best year as a pro last season, averaging nearly 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.

“There won’t be a shortage of teams with significant cap space interested in Tyrus next summer,” Elfus said by phone on Friday “But he loves Chicago, and he realizes the Bulls are on the verge of contending. He would still love to remain a Bull long-term.”

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