Thursday, September 16, 2010

Erick Dampier to Miami?

Is Erick Dampier the Heat's missing piece to the championship puzzle?

One would know, whether you're a Heat fan or not, that the center spot is one of Miami's weaknesses on the dream roster that Pat Riley assembled this off-season. Who would care, though, when you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the team together with great role players such as Udonis Haslem, Eddie House, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Miami actually has plenty of size to offer at the 5 spot -- having Anthony, the likely starter, Ilgauskas -- the first of them to come off the bench, Jamaal Magloire -- a solid tough presence that any team would love to have, and Dexter Pittman -- a rookie with a lot of potential if he gets his body to the right shape. One could also argue that Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem could find themselves having to play some minutes at the 5 occasionally.

Now the question is, will that be good enough to handle the likes of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, and a lot more? It seems that majority of the people definitely doesn't see it that way, thus predicting Miami to fail winning it all this season. Well, Erick Dampier could have a little say about it.

Dampier, 35, just got waived by the Bobcats. His $13M contract for this season has been officially voided, which wasn't guaranteed. Once Damper clears waivers Friday, he would have the freedom to sign with any team he should wish and get the best opportunity possible.

Most recently, our friends at The Miami Herald had an opportunity to catch up with him. He has told them that he doesn't have a clear decision yet and has no preference, but seems intrigued about a possible Miami marriage.

"They have some good, young talent down there and can do a lot of big things," Dampier stated to the Herald. "Obviously, I want to be in a situation to compete for a championship. I haven't talked to my agent yet, so we'll go from there. But I've kept myself in good shape for 14 years, and still feel like I can play the game at a high level."

Other possible suitors for Dampier's services include Denver, Houston, and Chicago. A move to Boston is basically impossible at this point, as they already have signed up former Heat bigs Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal. A Mavericks reunion is also highly unlikely. Dallas just re-signed Brendan Haywood and have acquired Tyson Chandler from the Bobcats, for Dampier.

He would provide a huge boost to Miami's frontcourt. Certainly, his impact isn't earth shattering, but he would come in useful and would be the clear cut starter if Miami can secure his services. Dampier would bring toughness, a unique veteran presence and other solid attributes shall he take less money to help Miami bolster its roster to the best possible degree. He also has possessed a great work ethic throughout his career. He can also set great picks which would come in handy, especially for LeBron and D-Wade. Add his solid rebounding and interior defense and you would witness a great fit, quite possible the missing piece indeed, to the championship puzzle.

Sources have told that the Heat emerges as the frontrunners to secure Dampier's services. Miami can only offer the veteran's minimum, which is believed to be worth around $1.4M.

In a related note, sources have also indicated that the Heat is still leaving the door open for other free agents such as Allen Iverson, Larry Hughes and Jerry Stackhouse. Miami has yet to decide which player would get the 15th and final roster spot, but there are rumors that rookie Da'Sean Butler has already won the spot.

Training camp will open on Sept.27, which will be held at Hurlburt Field and Eglin Force Air Base in Florida's Panhandle. The Heat has held previous training camps at their home arena for the past few years, but wants to focus and limit distractions for this season. Miami will open the season with a visit to Boston on the Celtics' floor on Oct. 26.

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