In addition, the Bobcats still owe a protected first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls for the trade that originally brought Thomas to Charlotte in 2010. That pick becomes unprotected in 2016.
"I don't ever think about the money that anybody invests," Dunlap said Thomas' playing time and salary. "The standards are we have a compass of what leads to good basketball. And so, he's not the only one. There are other guys who make a fair amount of dough too and the expectations are the same."
Ben Gordon and Gana Diop are two other high-priced Bobcats who've seen reduced playing time.
Diop, who makes $8 million this year, is averaging 2.3 rebounds and 0.6 points per game while playing in only 19 games. His contract is up after the season.
Gordon makes $12.4 million this year and is due to make another $13.2 million next year. He has been productive offensively this season before seeing his minutes reduced after a practice altercation with Dunlap. Gordon sat out Friday night's game after the team was unable to trade him, although he did return to play 11 minutes against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
"If a guy doesn't play and you're wondering why he went from this amount of minutes to that amount of minutes, to me it is an effort-based thing," Dunlap said. "Do you play good solid defense and all of the contributions that fans would come to expect, too?"
Thomas turned down interview requests through the team's public relations department.
Teammate Gerald Henderson said Thomas has been "a model citizen" and hasn't been a distraction in the locker room.
"He's been a pro every day," Henderson said. "He comes in and gets his work in. Whatever the situation, he's putting his work in just to make sure he's ready."
Dunlap wouldn't rule out Thomas returning to play this season for the Bobcats, saying "anything is possible."
"When you make extreme statements that is not a good thing," Dunlap said. "I think fairness is what I always look for."