LAS VEGAS Brendan Haywood already lives in Charlotte. Now he works there, too.
The Charlotte Bobcats claimed Dallas Mavericks center and former North Carolina Tar Heel Haywood off waivers Saturday. The move expected to cost about $6 million over the next three seasons could land the Bobcats their starter in the middle.
Seven-footer Haywood was waived Thursday under the NBA's amnesty provision, which allows each team to cut one player and no longer count his salary against that team's cap. The Bobcats agreed to pay about $2 million each season of what the Mavs still owe Haywood in a blind-auction process for amnestied players.
"When you have an opportunity to get a quality center, you do it," said Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins."He's somebody we're familiar with from his rookie season in Washington."
Higgins and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan were running the Wizards' basketball operation when Haywood arrived as a rookie. The Mavericks amnestied him Thursday in order to sign free-agent center Chris Kaman. Haywood has a home in Charlotte and frequently worked out at Time Warner Cable Arena with various Bobcats the past few summers.
"He's a defender, a rebounder, a runner and a shot-blocker," Higgins described. "He has the ability to take up space in the paint, and we need that. He really rolls hard to the basket (offensively). The way he plays, he has to be honored in the paint, and we need that" to free up perimeter shooters.
Haywood, 32, grew up in Greensboro before becoming a Tar Heel. He played at North Carolina with power forward Antawn Jamison, who the Bobcats are recruiting in free-agency. Signing Jamison would likely complete the Bobcats major off-season acquisitions, after they signed point guard Ramon Sessions on Friday.
Over a 10-year NBA career, Haywood has averaged 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds and shot 53 percent from the field. Hell compete with fellow centers Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens for playing time.
The Observer first reported the Bobcats interest in Haywood Wednesday. He cleared waivers with the Bobcats submitting the winning bid about 5 p.m. Saturday.
Higgins said Haywoods foot speed and shot-blocking ability could be particularly useful in the system new coach Mike Dunlap is installing.
"In the up-tempo defensive mechanism we'll have, a shot-blocker as the last line of defense is always helpful," Higgins said.
Higgins said a veteran center could be good for Biyombo, as a mentor.
"He can lean on Brendan," Higgins said.