Haywood said he would like to remain with the Mavs. He said he has spoken to his agent Andy Miller and will begin examining his options in the next couple of weeks. Dampier, with one non-guaranteed year left on his contract, might or might not be back. “Yeah, I love everything about it,” Haywood said. “I love the organization, the coaching staff, everything here is done first class. You can’t argue with anything that they have here.”
Earlier in the regular season when Dampier got a start over Haywood, after the game Haywood was asked how he felt about it and said, now famously: “I just work here.” That sent up red flags. Haywood’s play has also wavered, in terms of his physical presence and attention to detail defensively. On Friday, Haywood said he would not expect to be named the starter wherever he signs. “I don’t believe in that. That comes from working hard and preparing in the summertime,” Haywood said. “I feel when you come into camp, your play should speak for who should be the starter.”
As I already mentioned, Brendan Haywood could more or less by the key to the Mavs’ success next season. It’s not easy to find a center as serviceable as Haywood at all, and things are a tad trickier for a capped out team with few movable assets. Dallas will need to make a few moves to take the next step as it were, but such steps are fruitless without a solid big manning the middle. Erick Dampier is as good as gone, so the news that Haywood may want to stick around is rather cheery. The Mavs can offer Brendan the longest deal and the most money, and while that’s not necessarily in the team’s best interest in terms of financial flexibility, it does give Dallas the best chance to be competitive during Dirk’s remaining years as an elite player.
Dallas will need a center for next year and beyond, and Haywood could give them that. It all depends on whether or not the Mavs can keep Brendan and if they want to. Haywood was considered by players and management to be the centerpiece of the Josh Howard trade, though it’s unclear how, if at all, his postseason performance and behavior since the trade have impacted his place with the team.
This is just the initial step in what’s sure to be a long off-season, but it’s a place to start. Brendan wants to stay, or says he wants to stay at least, and in the coming months we’ll see exactly what that means.