Mavs 'hammering' out Haywood offer

According to Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the club is "hammering" out a contract offer for center Brendan Haywood.

Terms of the deal are unknown, but a source said Haywood could command $8 million and possibly up to $10 million a season. He made $6 million last season.

Having surveyed the limited centers available in free agency, the Mavs seem intent on re-signing Haywood to avoid having to possibly use valuable trade assests to deal for a big man.

"No secret," Nelson said. "Dirk is 1A and Brendan is 1B. We want to keep him a Maverick."

That's heady talk for a nine-year veteran whose career averages stand at 7.7 points and 6.4 rebounds. Coach Rick Carlisle met with the 7-foot Haywood, 30, as soon as free agency began. Haywood did average 9.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in a season split between Washington and Dallas. However, he lost his starting role mid-way through his time with the Mavs, but has been assured by the team that he would enter next season as the undisputed starter.

"We are currently in contract discussions," said Haywood's agent Andy Miller, who believes his client is the top center available in free agency and a top 10 center in the league. "But, at this time I couldn't give you an estimate as to the stage we are at."

Miller said Haywood will meet with Miami on Saturday in North Carolina.

Interest is high in Haywood, mostly among mostly Eastern Conference teams. Cleveland, Toronto, New York, Detroit and Utah have expressed interest. Chicago and Boston have also reportedly inquired. Of those teams, only the Heat and Bulls have available cap space. The other clubs could only acquire Haywood through a sign-and-trade.

Because Hawyood is a Bird-rights free-agent, the Mavs can sign him for more than the other teams.