Deron Williams or die trying.
Who should Mavs keep?
Dallas is nearly unrecognizable from their NBA championship squad already. The ships have been burnt—there’s no turning back now in terms of rebuilding. Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson were only the first of many to hit the road.
Chris Tomasson of FoxSports even reported that Jason Terry admitted to the Mavs’ blueprint to blow up the roster:
They didn't want to bring anybody back from last year… (Team officials said they're) clearing the cap as low and we can and this summer we're going after Dwight Howard, which hasn't happened, and Deron Williams, which they still have an opportunity.
And in order to clear that cap space to sign Williams, Cuban will pull the trigger using the gun that is the amnesty clause.
Jason Fleming of Hoops World analyzed the Mavs’ amnesty options, writing:
Dirk [Nowitzki] is untouchable while [Roddy] Beaubois and [Dominique] Jones are on rookie scale deals, which leaves [Brendan] Haywood and [Shawn] Marion. If the Mavericks truly want to go after Deron Williams this offseason, expect them to use amnesty on one of those two.
While the Mavericks possess two options, there’s only one right choice, and that’s Marion.
The Matrix has been a lockdown defender this season, but he’ll be 34 years old this May. And for a wing that can’t shoot the three, any further athletic decline will be devastating.
Plus, when it all comes down to it, small forward is the easiest position to find in basketball. Center, on the other hand, is by far the most difficult.
Haywood only averages 5.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He isn’t an offensive threat, a beast on the boards or a defensive force. But at 7’0”, 263 pounds, Haywood does one thing extremely well—be big.
Sure, he's aging too, but his size won’t forsake him any time soon. And next to Nowitzki and Williams, that size and physicality in the post is all that they’d need.
There aren’t 30 quality starting centers in the NBA, and there never will be. Labeling Haywood as quality is debatable, but he’s definitely capable. And capable centers are rare as well.
Because it’s such a thin position, quality centers demand mammoth amounts of money on the open market.
As ShamSports shows, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian are all free agents after this season. The remainders of Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Sean Williams and Brandon Wright’s contracts aren’t guaranteed either. Knock out Marion’s $8.4 million that he’s scheduled to cash in next year and the Dallas' cap room is through the roof.
Yes, eliminating Haywood’s $8.3 million contract would free up just as much space. But it wouldn’t give them equal freedom. The Mavs would be forced to spend just as much money, if not more to replace him.
Last offseason, Nene signed a $13 million/year deal. Quality centers' demands aren't going down any time soon. JaVale McGee is nothing more than capable, and according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, even he wants a max contract.
Marion is the more talented player. But cutting ties with him, not Haywood, is the more intelligent basketball decision.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.