Lockout limbo is wiping out all the fun of July free agency, so what's left to do other than continue on with my rankings and analysis of the 16 players currently on the world champion Dallas Mavericks’ 15-man roster?
I’m ranking the guys, one a day, from least critical to most critical to a title defense (with likelihood of being on the roster next season playing a significant role in the ranking).
So let’s see what you think of today’s ranking: No. 10.
If starting center Tyson Chandler leaves via free agency, Brendan Haywood would become a 7-foot necessity and not a luxury for the Mavericks.
BRENDAN HAYWOOD Pos: C
Experience: 10 years
Age: 31 (Nov. 27, 1979)
Contract status: Signed through 2015-16 (final year non-guaranteed)
2010-11 salary: $6.9 million
2011-12 salary: $7.6 million
His story: Haywood made up for an underachieving regular season with a solid postseason. His numbers (3.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg) don't reveal his contributions as a solid defender in the paint and a screen-setter on the offensive end. Early in the playoffs, he effectively spelled Tyson Chandler during bouts of foul trouble and was particularly effective against the big front line of the Los Angeles Lakers. When Haywood signed his lucrative deal last offseason, he fully believed he would be the Mavs' starting center. Then Dallas traded for Chandler, who absolutely blew away coach Rick Carlisle and his new teammates and earned the starting job. It admittedly turned out to be a bitter pill for Haywood to swallow, but once he finally accepted his role as an 18-minute-a-night bench player, he seemed to gain more confidence and played better. Perhaps most frustrating about Haywood's season -- he averaged a career-low 4.4 points and a near-career-low 5.2 rebounds -- was his abysmal 36.2 free throw percentage that more than once invited a Hack-a-Haywood ploy.
His outlook: As much as he redeemed himself in the postseason, the Mavs showed they could still win without their backup 7-foot center. Haywood tweaked a bothersome right hip flexor after logging just eight minutes in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which Dallas won. Unable to move well enough to play, Haywood would log just three more minutes the rest of the six-game series. The Mavs received enough good minutes from third-string center Ian Mahinmi, especially in Game 6, and sturdy backup power forward Brian Cardinal to survive.
As for the future, Haywood is pretty well locked up thanks to the deal he signed last offseason. Having said that, teams are always looking for starting centers and the Mavs might be able to find a deal that suits their needs, especially with the likelihood of needing to shed salary with a new, more salary-restrictive collective bargaining surely coming. A possible amnesty clause in a new CBA could also allow teams to shed a contract from the overall payroll (although the team would still be responsible for paying the player his remaining salary). Of course, those scenarios assume that Dallas is able to re-sign Chandler, who will be one of the most sought-after free agents once the lockout is lifted. If Chandler leaves, suddenly Haywood becomes a 7-foot necessity and not a luxury.