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Haywood: 'I'm not fighting for minutes'

NEW ORLEANS – Brendan Haywood doesn’t view Erick Dampier as competition.

That’s not a knock against the Mavs’ longtime starting center. It’s just that the Mavs’ new big man has no interest in a Haywood vs. Dampier storyline.

“I’m not fighting for minutes,” Haywood said after the Mavs’ shootaround Monday. “We’re fighting for a championship.”

Haywood has been involved in one of the nastiest intrasquad big man battles in recent NBA history. He came to blows with ex-Washington Wizards teammate Etan Thomas … not once, not twice, but three times.

Legend has it that Thomas had a dreadlock yanked from his head in one of those scraps. Haywood wouldn’t be able to use technique against the bald-headed Dampier, but that’s not an issue since there has been no indication of friction between the Mavs’ big men.

“Losing teams have competitions between players for playing time,” Haywood said. “That’s what we were doing in D.C. That’s losing basketball. We’re competing to win a championship. It comes down to, if I’m bringing it, he’s going to support me. If he’s bringing it, I’m going to support him.”

Dampier suffered an open dislocation of his right middle finger during Haywood’s Dallas debut and missed the next dozen games. Haywood basically was a beast for most of that stretch until back tightness caused him to miss a couple of games. He hasn't been productive in the last three games, averaging only 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in that span.

Haywood has kept the starting job since Dampier returned, although coach Rick Carlisle said that could change. Carlisle has stressed that the Mavs need both big men playing well to make a playoff run.

“Coach dictates the minutes,” Haywood said. “That’s his job. In Washington, [coach Eddie Jordan] made it known it was an open competition. This isn’t a competition.

“[Jordan] felt like that competition fueled the team. It was actually terrible for the team. This is more along the lines of, whoever is playing the best, put him in the game and let’s try to get something done.”