Brendan Haywood believes he's the top center available in the marketplace and he wants to be paid like his contemporaries, a source said.
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle reported having a productive meeting with Haywood at his North Carolina home soon after the free agency period opened late Wednesday night. The source said the Mavs have not made a formal offer, but that Haywood could expect a Mavs offer soon, as well as offers from several other teams.
The source said Cleveland, Toronto, New York, Miami, Detroit and Utah have expressed interest in the 7-foot veteran of nine NBA seasons.
How high could the bidding go? Consider Samuel Dalembert, who Philadelphia recently unloaded to Sacramento, is slated to make $12.9 million next season. Charlotte's Tyson Chandler is due $12.6 million.
New Orleans' Emeka Okafor will make $11.5 million and Denver's Nene will make $11.4 million.
All four players are younger than Haywood, 30, and all four have better career points and rebounding numbers (Haywood's career numbers are 7.7 ppg and 6.4 rpg).
It is worth noting that Philadelphia tried long and hard to get out from under Dalembert's expensive contract and Charlotte was happy to exchange Okafor's long-term, high-dollar deal for Chandler's shorter contract, which expires after next season.
Earlier Thursday, Carlisle said the Mavs and Haywood have a "mutual interest" and are "working toward getting something done." Carlisle assured Haywood that he will be the team's starting center.
Before making a decision, Haywood will likely want to see what unfolds in Cleveland, New York and Miami. All three teams are involved in the LeBron James sweepstakes.