NBA Roundtable

Haywood + Free Agency

In Free Agency, General NBA on October 10, 2009 at 6:28 am

The Washington Times reports

Haywood dedicated himself this offseason to returning in the best possible shape and having another career year. He had no shortage of motivation. In addition to making up for lost time, he wanted to see his Wizards back in the playoffs, where they had become a fixture the previous four seasons. And this time he wanted to go further. Additionally, Haywood is entering the final season of a five-year, $25 million contract.

But Haywood – who is the longest-tenured Wizards player and said he wants to finish his career with Washington – said a big payday is the last thing on his mind as the Wizards prepare for their redemption tour.

“My biggest thing is winning. If we come out here and win, first of all everybody looks good. Second of all, I feel like I’m going to have a big part in it,” he said. “If we come out here and win and make some noise in the playoffs, that helps your contract situation more than anything. When you’re coming out playing for yourself and being an individual, nobody wants a guy who’s got stats but not on a winning team.

“I’m not trying to play outside myself. … You don’t have to worry about me gunning because I’m in a contract year – that’s not going to happen.”

Also some nice quotes/information on Haywood’s defensive impact for the Wizards

His absence robbed the Wizards not only of their top center but also of the captain of their defense. After many a loss during last season’s 19-win struggles, Washington forward Antawn Jamison talked about how badly he missed having Haywood backing him up on defense and calling out opponents’ schemes an instant before they ran them.

Haywood played six of the final seven games last season and averaged 9.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. The Wizards’ season already was lost, but Haywood’s return made his teammates realize how good it was to have him back and gave them cause for optimism looking to this season.

“He was there for us all the time. Every time you get beat, you could feel his presence,” Caron Butler said after Haywood helped the Wizards upset Cleveland in the center’s second game back. “It was great to have [his] big body out there.”

Brendan Haywood

Brendan Haywood has been one of the most underrated defensive players in the NBA for the past five years. Haywood is a very talented + very effective defensive player. He plays good man-to-man defense and is a very good team defender. He uses his size (7-1 plus long) to intimidate shots and to help him control the paint.

Brendan Haywood is also a very good rebounder. A good individual rebounder in terms of grabbing the ball, but also a very good to excellent team rebounder. Haywood is what we call a space eater. He’s a big fella who takes up a lot of space in the paint and thus makes it difficult for opponents to sneak in and grab offensive rebounds. Haywood also does a good job of keeping his own man off the glass. So his impact on the boards is larger than it appears at first glance (rebounding rate or per minute rebounding).

Offensively, Haywood is a solid player. He scores around 12 points per 36 minutes while posting a true shooting percentage between 56-59% in three of his last four healthy seasons. In other words, he keeps the defense honest. He takes advantage of opportunities available to him and makes the opponent pay, which forces the opposition to defend him. Haywood is also a serviceable passer.

In summary, Brendan Haywood is an elite role player. He has a large impact on the game defensively + rebounding — areas where he doesn’t need the ball to be effective, allowing his teammates more time on the ball — and is a solid complementary offensive player. His impact is a higher than normal on the Wizards due to their collection of below average defenders, but it would still be high elsewhere.

Free Agency

As the article says: Brendan Haywood’s five year $25 million contract will expire next offseason. He’ll be up for a new contract. So what do I think he is worth? And what do I expect him to command?

A few factors to consider

  • Age — Haywood will be 30 years old when he finishes his deal and will turn 31 in the first month of the regular season in his new contract.
  • Recognition — Haywood is an underrated player who isn’t given the credit he deserves for his talent/impact.
  • Teams Below Salary Cap — Normally teams below the salary cap will try to spend their money on a star quality player. Which normally means an offensive player, or some athletic twenty something seven footer with potential. Normally players like Haywood, elite role players, don’t get much interest from these types of teams.
  • Potential — Haywood will be 30/31. He won’t get paid for potential. Everyone in the league will have an exact idea of what he’ll contribute.

Okay, so what do I reckon Brendan Haywood is worth?

I think Haywood is easily worth $8 million per annum. I’d be willing to go higher than that if I believed he was the final piece of the puzzle, but otherwise I wouldn’t due to his age.

Due to his age, I’d rather keep the deal down at four years but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

And what do I expect Brendan Haywood to command on the open market?

Most likely the MLE.

I don’t think teams who are below the cap space will be willing to spend more money than the MLE on Haywood. The MLE is worth around $33 million over five years. To get significantly more money than that, teams would have to go to $37/38 million or higher.

Otherwise, Haywood is better off selecting the team that offers him the best chance to play and to win as he enters the final stages of his career.

I know there’s quite a few Wizards who think he’ll get substantially better offers than the MLE, but truthfully I just can’t see that many situations where Haywood would realistically be offered more than the MLE by teams below the salary cap. Miami is the only team that I would partially be concerned about, but Haywood would be a Plan B option for them.

Career Season

Before we leave … Brendan Haywood’s career season from two years ago would have happened five years ago if not for Eddie Jordan’s misuse of Haywood throughout his tenure. Haywood’s improvement over those five years was minimal. It was just minutes, more minutes.

  1. It’s really interesting to read about how Haywood with 10 & 7 in 28-29 minutes is worth $33-38m (maybe $40m) over 5 years at age 31 and how some people think the Raps “overpaid” Bargs at 5 & $50m.

    Not that I’d be saying you’re wrong on Haywood. 10 & 7 are great numbers for your first big off the bench playing 22-26 minutes a night and $6-8m sounds like the right price.

    There will be free agent interest in Haywood. The Wiz had better not insult him with a low ball offer or liking Washington or not, Haywood will be gone.

  2. Brothersteve,

    As a starting Center, Brendan Haywood is a superior defender and rebounder to Andrea Bargnani. The best teams in the NBA do not pay their 7-fters $50.0 M to score 20 pts on offense while relinquishing 16 pts on defense and being out-rebounded 10 to 5.

  3. Hi Khandor,

    I believe Bargs is heading into the prime of his career over the next 5 years and will get better each season. (You pay for potential – or risk someone else getting it)

    Haywood is looking at his last contract before retirement. (And he’s earned a decent contract based on what he’ll likely give you.)

    Not expecting everyone would agree with that but as always the proof is in the playing.

  4. hi dave,

    i found a really interesting article on the chandler/okafur trade. I think you would enjoy it.

  5. brothersteve, the value added from defense and rebounding from Haywood far out-weighs whatever offensive efficiency Bargnani provides. Dave did a great comparison of Bargnani to a random average ‘player x’ and it showed how over-rated he is seen in some eyes. I honestly think if the Raptors were to switch Bargnani with Haywood in the starting line-up, the raptors would win 4-6 more games this year.

  6. Hey Brothersteve,

    I don’t like the Bargnani contract. I think it’s one of the worst contracts in the league, largely due it’s length.

    I agree with Khandor and Dino Gunners on Brendan Haywood being the superior player here.

    Hey Dino Gunner,

    I have read that article before. I don’t understand all the stats well enough (NBAPET stuff — how they’re configured and how accurate they are), but it’s very interesting reading.

    Basketball Prospectus is an excellent site. One of my favourites.

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