The Charlotte Bobcats waived Center Erick Dampier yesterday saving themselves $13 million in the process while also getting them below the dreaded luxury tax line. Charlotte had been actively pursuing a trade for Dampier but had been unable to find any deals that made sense for them.
With the Hawks attempting to stock up on big bodies all summer (Collins, Powell, Thomas) is their room for one more? MC touched on this way back on August 25th that Dampier could become available and would by far be the best of the potential centers available. The question is though at what cost? Dampier is already rumored to be interested in joining the Miami Heat, but all the Heat have to offer is a vet minimum salary. Also it now appears that there is more of a market for Dampier. If the Hawks and Heat both offered the vet minimum then there is little doubt in my mind that he would go to Miami. However, the Hawks still have their Mid Level Exception.
By using the MLE, the Hawks could make a competitive offer for Dampier as it has been reported that the Houston Rockets have already offered a multi year deal. The downside would be that using the MLE would push the Hawks above the Luxury Tax threshold. Ownership has been reluctant to this point to go into the tax but have stated that they would go that route for the right player. Simple question, Is Erick Dampier that player? The simple answer is probably not, but should he be?
Lets examine after the jump
Dampier played in 55 games last season starting 47 for the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged a little over 23 minutes a game while scoring 6 points a game but grabbed 7.3 rebounds per contest. He also averaged 1.4 blocks per game which would have placed him second on the Hawks behind Josh Smith's 2.1 average.
In MC's post back in August, he did a good job of breaking down the numbers comparing Dampier to his opponent:
Dampier (1280 minutes played)
Opponent counterpart vs. Dampier
Lets look at the Hawks potential big man rotation. Horford is the starter with ZaZa being the top reserve. Coach Larry Drew has indicated a desire to use a bigger lineup this season in some situations moving Horford to power forward. Dampier if healthy could potentially push ZaZa for playing time in practice and would probably be a notch above Thomas, Powell, and Collins in terms of talent. Now the downside would be is that barring injury Dampier would probably never be a threat to crack the Hawks starting lineup. He however could potentially start for the Miami Heat or other franchises if he were to choose to sign there.
Hawks management would have to decide whether or not Dampier would improve the club enough to off set the financial ramifications of the luxury tax. At the end of all of this discussion you are still talking about going into the luxury tax to pay for what amounts to a back up Center. In my opinion it is highly unlikely that the Hawks would be willing to go into the tax for a back up player even if that player would provide some of the toughness and size that they have been chasing for two seasons now. At this point it would appear that they are hoping that Etan Thomas will fit that bill.
Exit Questions: Should the Hawks be willing to go into the tax to bid for Dampier's services? Would his addition make any difference in the Hawks final standings this season?