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After failing to find a trade partner to take on Erick Dampier and his $13 million non-guaranteed contract, the Bobcats released the veteran center on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
“We explored several trade possibilities involving Erick, but ultimately have been unable to find a viable option,” Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins told ESPN. “Out of respect to Dampier, we have decided to release him so he may pursue opportunities prior to training camp.”
Dampier averaged 6.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Mavericks last season in 23.2 minutes a night. This summer he was traded to the Bobcats for a crop of players that included Tyson Chandler.
Now, the question is whether the Heat should pursue Dampier to fill their final roster spot. That would leave no room for players like Shavlik Randolph, Kenny Hasbrouck, Patrick Beverley, or Da’Sean Butler.
And that’s fine by me.
This team is in win-now mode. Now is not the time to worry about developing young talent. It’s about strengthening your team in the short-term as much as possible.
While Dampier’s numbers don’t wow you with his career averages of 7.8 points and 7.4 rebounds, lift the curtain to see his true value.
He has excellent size (6’11″, 265) and strength. He provides Miami with something they don’t have. He is efficient offensively, as he shot over 60 percent from the field the last four years. His strengths are his rebounding, interior defense, and physicality.
The Heat’s current centers are rookie Dexter Pittman, concrete-footed Jamal Magloire, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskus.
Pittman is far from ready to contribute on a nightly basis.
Magloire is essentially the only readily available “banger” with size inside.
Anthony is a great shot blocker but by no means a beefy, strong presence that can push people around.
“Big Z” has offense, but do the Heat really need any kind of offensive output at the center position?
Dampier would be a huge upgrade.
He would be an invaluable presence against teams with size like the Lakers, Magic, and Celtics. His role would be to rebound, defend, and be physical in the paint.
He would, however, have to sign for the veteran minimum, something nobody is sure he would be willing to have part of. The Heat do have something going for them in this regard. Dampier is already 34 and has yet to win an NBA championship. That’s a huge bargaining chip.
“I haven’t talked to my agent yet,” Dampier told the Miami Herald. “We’ll go from there. I can still play game at a high level.”
He told Herald Heat beat writer Michael Wallace that he doesn’t have a pecking order but likes what Miami has done.
The bottom line is he would be an excellent fit in Miami, and just another layer of icing on that monstrosity of a cake baking in Pat Riley’s oven.
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