DALLAS -- Last week Charles Barkley joined ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Co. and said adding Deron Williams alone to complement Dirk Nowitzki won't be enough to return the Dallas Mavericks among the Western Conference contenders.
Barkley said Nowitzki needs a big man in the middle.
After the Mavs went from championship to swept Saturday at the hands of the young Oklahoma City Thunder, Jason Terry, who might not be back with the team after eight seasons, said Nowitzki has plenty left in the tank, but that the Mavs must get him interior help.
"Dirk's so wonderfully amazing with his ability to play the game at high level night in and night out with the defenses that he faces," Terry said. "But, again, for Dirk to be successful and go to where we went to last year he has to have an active big to play alongside him. He has to. And he knows it. So, if he's involved in any kind of decisions I know that's what he's going to be looking for."
The comments by Barkley and Terry certainly sound like indictments of Mavs starting center Brendan Haywood, who had a miserable series and still has three guaranteed years and some $28 million remaining on his contract.
Haywood played a series-high 25 minutes, most of which came after Thunder center Kendrick Perkins left in the first quarter with a right hip strain. Yet, the 7-foot Haywood could only muster four points and four rebounds. He played a total of 36 minutes in the first three games and was benched to start the second half in Games 2 and 3.
In Game 4, the Mavs' interior defense was laughable, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Thunder scored 20 of their 35 points in the paint with the majority coming from James Harden. He drove past Dallas' guards at will and met little resistance as he attacked the lane and then the rim for 15 fourth-quarter points. He scored one fewer point in the quarter than the entire Mavs team.
Haywood played just the first 4:33 of the fourth quarter, long enough for Harden to put in six points and to be whistled for an offensive foul away from the ball. Ian Mahinmi finished out the game with little effectiveness on the defensive end to slow Harden. Mahinmi, who will become a free agent, did have 10 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes.
Because of his uninspired play during this brief series, the man who backed up Tyson Chandler last season and played just 25 minutes in the NBA Finals because of a hip injury sustained in Game 2 could fall victim to the amnesty clause this summer. It would allow the Mavs to rid their books of Haywood's remaining contract heading into next season. Shawn Marion is also a candidate for the amnesty clause, but the forward's value, particularly on the defensive end this season, can not be understated.
Although Carlisle twice went to Mahinmi to start the second half, the coach kept Haywood in the starting lineup all four games. It's uncertain at the moment if Haywood will be back in the starting lineup next season -- or back at all.
Here's three more things to consider as the Mavs head into a long offseason:
1. Half man, half awful: Vince Carter certainly had some moments this season and he even delivered a vintage jam in Game 4. But all in all, the Carter experiment didn't pan out. He had an abysmal series shooting the basketball. He made 3-of-10 shots in Game 4 and for the series he made 12-of-41 shots (29.3 percent). Carter did make 2-of-3 buckets from beyond the arc on Saturday, but he was 3-of-10 for the series. Carter is likely one of the few players that will return next season. He's under contract for the next two seasons.
2. Quiet Delonte West: He certainly provided Mavs fans with some entertaining play and antics, both on and off the court, this season, but his playoff series didn't leave much of a mark. West came off the bench for the first time in the series in Game 4 and had just two points and three assists in 18 minutes. West endured the unfortunate dislocation and fracture of his right ring finger in February and missed six weeks. As a free-agent-to-be, West said he hopes he's proven to the league that he's trustworthy of signing a multi-year deal. If that is the case, he will likely be signing somewhere other than Dallas.
3. What's next for Roddy B?: Rodrigue Beaubois played a grand total of 12 minutes in the four-game sweep. He got into Game 2 as something of an emergency sub when the Mavs fell behind by 16 points in the second quarter. It's been another rough season for third-year guard after coming back from a second foot surgery last summer. He said he can't be sure he'll be back with the Mavs -- he could be trade bait to create cap room if needed -- but Beaubois is excited to be healthy for the first time in three summers and capable of working out and working on his game. With the possibility that Terry, Jason Kidd and West won't be back, there could be real opportunity for Beaubois if the Mavs still believe he can be a contributor to the future of the franchise.