DALLAS -- Brendan Haywood has yet to practice with the Mavs, but he's the only healthy true center on the roster.
Erick Dampier is out for up to a month with an open dislocation to his right middle finger, which was surgically repaired today in Oklahoma City. That means Haywood will log heavy minutes.
The Mavs have limited options to back up Haywood. Tim Thomas is on indefinite leave to deal with a serious family matter. Eduardo Najera will hustle and bang, but he's only 6-8. Dirk Nowitzki might have to see significant time at center, but the Mavs would like to trim his minutes down the stretch.
That means Haywood will rarely leave the court unless he gets in foul trouble.
"This is going to be great for Brendan," coach Rick Carlisle said, trying to put a positive spin on a bad situation. "It’s being thrown right into it. He’ll learn quick."
The Mavs realize they desperately need another big man and plan to pursue Zydrunas Ilgauaskas if, as expected, the Wizards give him a buyout after he arrives in Washington as part of today's three-team blockbuster deal.