After picking him up in a mid-season trade with the Wizards last season, the Dallas Mavericks have re-signed center Brendan Haywood to a six-year, $55 million deal, according to Yahoo!'s Marc Spears. ESPN Dallas further reports that the final year of the deal is not fully guaranteed, bringing Haywood's guaranteed compensation to roughly $7-8 million per year over the length of the contract.
While hardly an offensive dynamo, Haywood has long been an underrated defensive presence in the post, and with the Mavs reportedly shopping Erick Dampier's expiring deal, he figures to step in as the starter for Dallas next season. SB Nation's Mavs Moneyball praised the deal, saying:
Whether you love or hate the terms of the deal, it's a good deal for the Mavericks. He's a very capable center and provides defense and respectable offense for the team. The free agent market for centers is relatively dry so keeping Haywood was a must. With this news and the news ofnegotiating a new deal with the team, the Mavs are now 2-2 on keeping their core together and not losing them to free agency.
Which is almost defensible...until you remember that Haywood is 30-years old and the Mavs went out in the first round last season. Sure, there's another move coming for Dallas -- between Dampier's massive expiring contract and the explosive sparkplug that is second-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavs have enough assets to make a run at somebody -- but this is a team overpaying an aging big man who's never been much of a scorer, just to tread water. How long until this contract is viewed as a mistake of Dampier-ian proportions? One season? Two? (Although, to be fair, Haywood doesn't have any of the motivation/personality issues Dampier does).
Consider: Dallas massively overachieved to get the No. 2 seed in the West given that they had the worst point differential of any playoff team in the conference (point differential is usually a better predictor of success than won-loss record). In other words, it shouldn't have been shocking that they went out in the first round. Dallas' core of Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry and Butler are all getting long in the tooth, with teams like the Thunder and Blazers on the rise (not to mention the Lakers standing in the way). Absent a sign-and-trade for a player of LeBron James' caliber (or perhaps Chris Paul), there's little reason to expect this team to be much more than a No. 3-5 seed in the West, with a ceiling of the second round.
Of course, none of this is to say that Haywood isn't a useful player; he is. But just because other franchises have badly overpaid marginal centers in the past doesn't "establish the market" there, and mean the Mavs have to wildly overpay as well. Indeed, the Mavs were reportedly close to signing Jermaine O'Neal, who only ended up taking a two-year $20 million deal from the Celtics, before O'Neal backed out after Dallas wouldn't promise him the starting gig, which would have been much better than committing longer-term to a similar player in Haywood.
For more on the Mavs, check out Mavs Moneyball.