Haywood, Chandler have heated history

The Mavs believe that they have one of the league’s best center tandems after re-signing Brendan Haywood and trading for Tyson Chandler. They might also have one of the league’s most interesting chemistry experiments.

Haywood and Chandler weren’t friendly rivals when they were both young centers in the Eastern Conference. Chandler was ejected from an April 2005 Bulls-Wizards game for grabbing Haywood around the neck from behind and throwing him to the floor.

“It was a cheap shot,” Haywood told CBSSports.com at the time. “For some reason, this guy has something personal against me. When I went down, he kind of acted like he was going to kick me in the chest and didn't do it. It was a sucker move. The bottom line is, when we see each other out in public, he never has anything to say. Who's tough with a bunch of referees around -- nobody?”

Granted, that was more than five years ago, but you wonder whether there might still be some tension between the big men.

OK, well, I wonder whether there might be some tension between the big men. Donnie Nelson dismissed it as a potential concern.

“That’s sparks flying and guys that are passionate,” Nelson said. “That’s no issue there.”

Of course, Haywood has had issues getting along with the big man he was splitting minutes with before. While battling for a starting job with the Washington Wizards, Haywood and Etan Thomas got into three fights. Haywood apparently won them all, prompting him to playfully boast once about being the heavyweight champion of the Wizards.

It’s worth noting that Haywood had no such issues with Erick Dampier while those two uncomfortably shared the starting job late last season. And part of the Mavs’ recruiting pitch to Haywood in free agency was that he’d be their starting center, so perhaps that eases the tension.

But the Haywood-Chandler dynamic could be interesting to watch … from a safe distance.