FanPost

Making the Case for Brendan Haywood....Sure, I'll do it!

What I am going to try to do in this post is attempt to go against popular opinion, logical reason and perhaps my own gut feeling, and try to make a legitimate case for keeping Brendan Haywood and his contract, even if there is a one-time buy-out option in the new CBA. Of course, if the Mavericks decide to go this route by keeping Haywood and his contract, they would still need to take advantage of this allowance in order to get out from under one of the large contracts and ensure roster flexibility for possible trades and/or free agent acquisitions.  If the decision to keep Haywood is made, then who would be the most likely roster casualty?  I believe that Shawn Marion is the most logical choice.  Therefore, this is going to boil down to Haywood vs. Marion, in regards to cost, value, intangibles, and the future competitiveness and success of the franchise, going forward.

Now, I do want to quickly preface this by stating that I have been a huge Shawn Marion fan since he was giving the Mavericks fits when he was with the Phoenix Suns.  He's the kind of player I really like. The kind that is so important to every aspect of the team, and he definitely brings the kind of intangibles that may not always show up on a stat-sheet, but certainly are present in the overall success of the team. Some games, he's a defensive stopper and others he's a surprising offensive weapon, but he's always consistently important and impactful in a game.  In Dallas, he is more like an afterthought, but we know that he played an important role in this team's successful Championship run. In some games he scored, while in others, he didn't score more than a few points, but he was rebounding, defending, blocking or just flat out irritating the other team. We think of Dirk, Terry, Chandler, Kidd and even JJ, but we can't really put our finger on what Marion actually did, except play some friggin' ball!

With that out of the way, in writing this, I must outline some basic assumptions to work with:

 

(If you are bored with this topic, read not further. Otherwise, my opinions and analysis are after the jump)


1)      There will be some type of CBA for the NBA and they will have a season in 2011-2012, with that CBA including a hard-cap, a max deal for players at 4 years and a one-time buy-out for a player contract to not hamstring the organization.

2)      Chandler will be re-signed at a high salary for the next 4 seasons (If not, Haywood is staying anyway...lol)

3)      Butler or a comparable priced SF will be acquired via free agency or trade.

In addition, the salaries and contractual options for the Mavs going forward:


A

B

C

D

E

F

G

1

Player Option

Team Option

Guaranteed

Unguaranteed

Qualifying Offer

Released

2

Last Updated: September 14, 2010

3

Dallas Mavericks

4

Player

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

2015-2016

5

Dirk Nowitzki

$17,278,618

$19,092,873

$20,907,128

$22,721,381

$0

$0

6

Tyson Chandler

$12,600,000

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

7

Caron Butler

$10,561,960

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

8

Jason Terry

$9,873,000

$10,658,000

$0

$0

$0

$0

9

Jason Kidd

$8,500,000

$8,500,000

$0

$0

$0

$0

10

Shawn Marion

$7,305,500

$7,975,932

$8,646,364

$9,316,796

$0

$0

11

Brendan Haywood

$6,900,000

$7,624,500

$8,349,000

$9,073,500

$9,798,000

$10,522,500

12

DeShawn Stevenson

$4,151,786

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

13

Jose Juan Barea

$1,815,000

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

14

Alexis Ajinca

$1,467,840

$2,263,409

$3,243,465

$0

$0

$0

15

Rodrique Beaubois

$1,156,080

$1,236,720

$2,227,333

$3,271,952

$0

$0

16

Dominique Jones

$1,110,120

$1,193,280

$1,276,560

$2,299,085

$3,377,355

$0

17

Greg Buckner

$1,064,516

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

18

Ian Mahinmi

$885,120

$947,907

$0

$0

$0

$0

19

Tim Thomas

$854,389

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

20

Total Guaranteed

$85,523,929

$49,386,585

$37,902,492

$41,111,677

$9,798,000

$0

21

Note: Player Options are included in Guaranteed Salary unless otherwise noted. Team Options and Qualifying Offers are not included unless otherwise noted. Only the guaranteed amount of partially unguaranteed contracts is included.

22

Note: Terry's contract is guaranteed for $5,000,000 in 11-12, which is the figure included in Guaranteed Salary.

23








 

Journey back with me just two years, and re-visit the days of our best center being Eric Dampier. Even with his limitations, he was still considered "a real center" in the NBA and we were going to battle with him again in 2009-2010, and although we looked forward to the time we would be able to use the "DUST chip" in a trade, he was considered a true big man...the best we'd had in quite a long time. We didn't have much in the form of a back-up center, so as long as Damp kept out of foul trouble, we had a big man in the center. However, we knew we needed more effectiveness from the center position if we wished to truly be considered a contender.

Then came the trade of Josh Howard and spares to Washington, which netted the Mavericks Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, and the so-called "key to the trade", Brendan Haywood. Personally, I was happy with getting a skilled SF in Caron Butler to replace Josh, as well as a tough-minded perimeter defender in Stevenson, but thought Haywood was going to be a rental if he wasn't any more effective than Damp had been the past several years.  I still remember the first game I saw Haywood play and I believe my eyes literally tripled in size when I saw a big body with athletic quickness and relatively soft hands. I remember the buzz regarding Haywood the rest of the season and that he was a player the Mavs must re-sign, as he is the kind of big man the Mavs need. Actually, I was pretty nervous about the Mavs not keeping him, as Damp was sure to be traded, Diop was long gone and Haywood could really play. 

Now, I believe many, if not most, Mavs' fans forget this time in Mavs' history. It was of utmost importance to sign Haywood as he might be "the missing piece", as a legitimate and skilled center. When the deal was done, many thought it might have been too large a salary on too long of a contract.  However, if the Mavs wanted to continue to compete and be legitimate contenders, this was one of the necessary evils. The Mavs had their legitimate big man for years to come!  Then, two weeks later....

Two weeks later, after months of Mavs fans dreaming about the likes of a Dwayne Wade, a LeBron James, etc. joining Dirk here in Dallas, to make the Mavs a serious championship contender, the infamous "DUST chip" was used to bring in.....Tyson Chandler?  Seriously, Tyson friggin' Chandler?  The oft-injured big man with superb athletic skills, IF he could stay on the court, was our big prize for the DUST chip?  And this, after we just signed our center to a long contract for significant money? Sure, Chandler had a pretty good rep and was certainly an athletic defensive presence, BUT after a summer of dreams of a Wade, a James, even a Bosh, perhaps coming to Dallas, the reality setting in of a broken down, second center was quite a letdown, to say the least. In fact, for all his promise, Chandler had been shipped around the league and been such a letdown in various cities, people could have mistaken him for Jim Jackson.

Well, despite what I personally thought was going to transpire with Chandler's arrival, and perhaps many Mavs fans felt the same way, we all know what happened. Our "second center" had perhaps the biggest impact on this team that any player could have. Chandler assumed the starting role, never really had an injury issue all season, and completely kicked ass, while basically infecting the entire team with his type of will, strength and attitude. I don't need to tell you what he meant to this team, as we all saw it. He was simply amazing! He performed beyond my wildest dreams and was EXACTLY the player this team needed!  He even relegated our "legitimate center" to a backup role, and thus we got a little spoiled. The Dallas Mavericks actually had two legitimate starting centers on their squad for the first time since the days of James Donaldson and Roy Tarpley (if you can call Donaldson a legit center).  In just a short period of time, we went from pinning our hopes and dreams on a tandem of Dampier and Diop to one of Chandler and Haywood. Quite a friggin improvement, huh?

With all this awesomeness that Chandler displayed, it truly spoiled Maverick fans to the point of really taking the abilities of Brendan Haywood for granted, even to the point that we viewed Haywood as poorly as we did Dampier, or even Shawn Bradley in some respects. It was like, "Why are we paying Haywood so much as a backup only playing around 15-20 minutes a game? We can get another backup center for much cheaper."  This is absolutely true, but it also may prove to be quite short-sighted. We aren't getting another backup center, of his quality, at a cheaper price. To be honest, the real question, and the only question we should ask is "Is Brendan Haywood worth his contract for the Dallas Mavericks?"  Most say "No." and can make very compelling and accurate arguments for that point of view. I believe we must look at this situation a little more deeply to determine the value Haywood actually provides to the Mavs. The reason this is so important, is there are only 2 options with Haywood: 1) Choose his as the contract to buy-out and rid the team of, as opposed to any other contract on the Mavs; 2) Keep Haywood and his contract. This is an important decision now, for title defense, as well as for the future.

As I stated earlier, the only real choices on a contract buy-out scenario, are between Brendan Haywood and his contract vs. Shawn Marion and his contract. Except for Dirk, nobody else has a contract with significant years at significant dollars. So, let's look at what the Mavs are scheduled to pay each player in the years to come:

Looking at the salaries in the chart above, Shawn Marion is due to receive approximately $300,000 more than Haywood over the next three seasons. I only include these 3 seasons because these are the only 3 seasons they are both guaranteed these salaries (Marion has a player option for the 3rd year, which he will surely exercise; Haywood has a 4th year guaranteed and a club option for a 5th, which will most likely not be picked up).  Now, it's not that Marion will be making so much more than Haywood that is important, because they are almost exactly the same in dollars. The question becomes which player is more valuable to the club at that salary, for now, and the next few years.  I am of the belief that when all things are considered, Brendan Haywood provides more value to the club, when evaluating what he can bring to the team on the court, as well as "invisible" value that cannot be seen on the court.  The fact of the matter is we ARE keeping one of these contracts, so we need to make the best selection possible. So over the next 3 seasons:

2011-2012:  Shawn Marion = $7,975,932;  Brendan Haywood = $7,624,500

2012-2013:  Shawn Marion = $8,646,364;  Brendan Haywood = $8,349,000

2013-2014:  Shawn Marion = $9,316,796;  Brendan Haywood = $9,073,500

So what is the value of Shawn Marion over these next three years?  In contrast, what is the value of Brendan Haywood over the next three years?

Age and Playing Time

As of right now, Marion is 33 years old and Haywood is 31. At the end of Marion's 3 year contract, he will be 36. At the end of Haywood's 4 years left, he will still be a year younger than that, at age 35.

We know that once Butler went down, Marion had to step into the starter's role, and although he brought a different skill-set to the SF position, he proved effective this past season. In fact, we saw a rebirth of "The Matrix" version of Shawn Marion at points throughout the playoffs. He did anything and everything needed in just about every game, but the one constant was his defensive play.  However, the reality is that the Mavericks are in the market for a SF who would be signed as a starter, thus relegating Marion to 20-25 minutes per game as a backup SF, or even minutes at PF or C when they go to a small lineup.  Marion will be the guy without a position, but provides value as a backup at several positions.

We know that when Haywood was given his contract, he was viewed as the Mavs starting center for the next 5 years at minimum. He is a quality center, but the acquisition of Tyson Chandler became the wonderful fly in the ointment!  Chandler is a more athletic, more polished and more impactful influence and player for the Mavs. He earned the starting job and never looked back. Haywood became a high-paid backup Center for the Mavericks. However, he is a pretty damn good backup Center, even if he's not as athletic and sucks as a free-throw shooter. In fact, the Mavs "proved" they could win without him with his hip injury in the NBA Finals.  But that doesn't mean we don't need him on the roster. Also, Chandler is younger than Haywood, so it seems even less likely the Mavs "need" Haywood, BUT let's not forget the reality of the situation.

The working assumption here is that the Mavericks will re-sign Chandler as a FA (God, I hope so!), and if they don't, this entire post will be useless, because then Haywood isn't going anywhere. There's not a better center we can pick up for the money, unless it's a huge deal for Dwight Howard.  No matter how we might like to, we cannot ignore the fact that despite his healthy 2010-2011 season, Chandler is still an injury risk. I can't imagine what might happen if Chandler goes down and Mahinmi or whoever we would pick up, is our replacement. Mahinmi cannot play more than 10 minutes without picking up 5 fouls...lol...so far!  One important factor in keeping Chandler healthy is not playing him for too many minutes. Another important thing about Chandler is that we never want him to lose his aggressiveness, even if it does get him in foul trouble. Having Haywood taking his place is a pretty good position to be in when necessary, as we lose a little, but the opponent doesn't gain much of an advantage.  Can you imagine being the team scheming for the Mavs, and part of your plan is to get drive the lane and force Chandler into foul trouble. Well, this plan becomes less effective when you realize that even if you get Chandler to sit for a while, you are still dealing with Brendan Haywood, who would probably be the starting center for their own team.

Like Marion, Haywood would probably be playing 20-25 minutes per game, as a backup. Even though Marion can play many positions, which is valuable, Haywood plays one position where you cannot coach someone to be 7 feet tall. I just feel a center, which can start on most teams in the league and perform well, just might hold more value at that price than a player more versatile, but is a valuable "jack of all trades". Which is easier to replace for that kind of money, for the same length of time?

Haywood is a starting center in this league for a vast majority of the teams, and the price tag isn't out of whack for that. Problem is, he is a backup center to one of the best in the league, on our team. Marion is a backup SF/PF combo and doesn't necessarily start on a majority of the teams in the league. His price tag is a little high for that. That's why it still comes down to "What do the Mavericks need now, and in the future?"  Do we have a combination of players on this team that can do what these players can do, even in a back-up role? For Haywood, not so much, BUT we showed in the playoffs that we can plug in some backups for a few minutes, IF Chandler ratchets down the aggressiveness and intensity a bit. Marion, that's a tough call, but Brewer and Rudy can take up some of that defensive slack at SF if necessary and definitely provide the same, if not better offense. The rebounding from that position might be lacking, though.

The Invisible Value

There will come a time when Dirk will retire, which I figure is after the last 3 years of this contract. At that time, we will have an aging team, with the hope that some of these young guys can take the baton and run with it. We will be looking to get younger and better and while we may not be able to do that through Free Agency or the Draft, perhaps it is through trade.

This is really the kicker in all of this.  Marion really isn't tradeable after this off-season. He will be too old with diminishing skills, with too big of a contract.  In fact, if he is bought out, it is possible that the Mavs might be able to re-sign him at a more team-friendly price.  Haywood, as a pretty decent center with a similar contract, would still retain value to other teams in search of a center. Even if he serves his purpose and plays for the next 3-4 years in Dallas, he is an expiring contract that can be moved, simply because of the club-option in his final year.  Brendan Haywood may be more valuable, for the money, right now because of what he can do. However, he may prove to be even more valuable down the road, in a possible trade of a center for an explosive, young player that can hopefully carry this team into the future.  We don't have that player....yet.

Just a note: I had something happen to me last week which pretty made it impossible to use my left hand, therefore, I have tried to type this in pain. If it seems choppy and repetitive, I apologize, but that is what happens when I can't just sit and type what's on my mind...lol

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