Hawks Not Willing to Overpay Dampier

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Erick Dampier opted out of the last two years of his Golden State contract at about $8 million per in order to sign a secure, long-term deal. As teams above the cap, most notably the Knicks, fall by the wayside in sign-and-trade deals due to Golden State's reshuffled lineup, only teams with cap space can offer the unrestricted free agent more than the mid-level exception. Atlanta is reportedly offering Dampier only a three-year deal worth about $25 million, or also about $8 million per year. Dampier wants more years AND more salary. But why should Atlanta bid against itself?

Dampier has four possibilities for this coming season. He can:

(1) Sign with Atlanta for the three-year deal.
(2) Try to orchestra a sign-and-trade for a long-term, high-priced deal with someone like the Knicks.
(3) Sign a long-dated MLE with any team.
(4) Sign a one- or two-year with an option deal for relatively small money a la Stephen Jackson last year.

Why would he do the fourth option? The biggest knock on Dampier appears to be that he played well last season. That's right. Because he played so well, people have the impression he only plays in years when he wants to lock-up a long-term deal. His career averages, his height, and his experience are more than enough to get him a high-priced, long-term deal in today's market, but his excellent play seems to be working against him, ironically enough. If he takes a year to show he can do it again, perhaps that will eliminate the doubters about his consistency.

Or perhaps it will just prove their point.

Dampier needs stability. Atlanta is not the only team under the cap -- Phoenix also has some interest in the big guy -- but Atlanta's three-year offer may be just a little too short for his tastes.

Dampier will probably end up somewhere else rather than a Hawk next season. And Atlanta doesn't seem poised to regret it.

Atlanta finished the Rocky Mountain Revue with a 3-2 record, good for fourth place. The winner of the summer league was Denver, who went undefeated 5-0.

Josh Smith just barely squeezed onto the top 10 list for scorers in the league with a 14.7 points per game average. He was also the third-best blocker in the summer league, rejecting an average of 2.5 shots per contest.


Our own Patrick J. Austin ofHoopsworld.comwrites: The best option for us might be to just sign a decent center to a 1 year deal, and then try to find our franchise post player in the summer of 2005.That's when Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, and Pau Gasol will all be free agents. For this upcoming season, I think re-signing Joel Pryzbilla would be a good move. Before his injury, he was showing flashes of being a defensive presence. His rebounding was another positive. Another player to look at is Keon Clark. Keon is a wirey pivot player with good athleticism and some decent shot blocking abilities.

Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: [Jon] Barry, an NBA veteran who is receiving interest from the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers, has not heard from the Nuggets recently.The Atlanta resident averaged 6.2 points in 57 games last season.

Thomas Stinson ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: No one ever called him Lowell, a given name that never fit.Dramatically short and with a head of fluffy blond hair, someone back home in Missouri dubbed him Cotton early on, a nickname as distinctive as the basketball career he would ply for nearly half a century. Cotton Fitzsimmons, the two-time NBA coach of the year as well as the second coach the Atlanta Hawks had, died Saturday in Phoenix at age 72 from complications of lung cancer. Though his legacy is ever tied to the Phoenix Suns, whom he coached three times, his four seasons with the Hawks (1972-76) came at a time in Atlanta's history when the city was striving to be big-league, even if it wasn't sure how.

Maria Saporta ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: The community has been working with environmental organizations, including the Conservation Fund, to see if there are any solutions. "We are always available to play facilitator and help find a solution that's both economically and ecologically satisfactory to the community," says Rutherford Seydel, an Atlanta attorney (and an owner of the Atlanta Hawks/Thrashers) who is vice chairman of the Conservation Fund, a national organization.

The Associated Press write inAccess North Georgia: Josh Smith scored a tournament high 26 points and hit 4-of-6 3-pointers to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 78-74 summer league victory over the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday.

Peter Vecsey ofThe New York Postwrites: The longer Erick Dampier remains a free agent, the more it appears the Warriors aren't about to cooperate with the Knicks, Pacers, Grizzlies or Hawks regarding a sign-and-trade... An option is go through the Hawks, who've got plenty of cap space because they've got plenty of roster space. While Dampier's not enthusiastic about performing in Atlanta's echo chamber, if he wants to quadruple the nearly $17M forfeited by opting out of his two-year Warrior contract he may be forced to sign with the Hawks long term.Why would they help out a player whose reputation for being unmotivated when his team is struggling, except when his deal is about to run out precedes him on the fast break? ("I'd only bring him in on a day-to-day contract," one of Dampier's former supervisors stressed.) Because the Hawks can help themselves by swapping him for a couple of registered adults. Following a league required 45-day wait once the season gets under way, Dampier would be eligible to be re-routed. Anywhere.