Brendan Haywood reaches deal to return to Dallas

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bhaywood.jpgDallas gets it. Miami is about to get it — you need a big man to go alongside your flashy, scoring power forward.

Brendan Haywood is a big man, and he is going to continue playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki for the next couple years. He has agreed to a six-year, $55 million deal with the Mavericks, according to Marc Spears at Yahoo.

Eric Dampier is still the biggest center on the Mavericks’ roster, but his $13 million 2010-2011 salary is unguaranteed, meaning a team could cut him without paying him anything at all. Dallas has been using that as a trade chip with teams trying to bring back some talent that will get the Mavericks over the hump in the West. And by hump we mean the Lakers.

Haywood is an above-average center — he shoots at a good percentage (56 percent with the Mavericks last year), can rebound well and is a solid defender. He’s better than Dampier, and he makes the Mavericks better.

Dallas knows this — they have a bunch of advanced stats to confirm what their eyes see — and that’s why they made Haywood a priority. He was the first visit for coach Rich Carlisle once free agency opened.

The only question is the six years — Haywood will be 36 years old at the end of this deal. They may be looking to trade that salary by then.

But for now, this is a solid signing for Dallas. Mark Cuban, however, wants more than solid. This is a team still looking to make a big move.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.