Dampier: I'd make Knicks better

Updated: August 5, 2004, 2:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Free agent center Erick Dampier visited the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a team he said would go farther in the playoffs with him on the roster.

But he's still shopping.

The 6-foot-11 veteran has spent the last seven seasons with Golden State and has talked to a few other NBA clubs the past several weeks.

Dampier met with Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens, toured the practice facility with Madison Square Garden and was expected to meet later Wednesday with general manager Isiah Thomas.

The Knicks lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.

"I think with the addition of me, it would definitely make this team better," Dampier told The Associated Press.

Dampier averaged 12 rebounds, fourth in the league, and 12.3 points last season. He has also met with the Atlanta Hawks, and said they put an offer on the table, one that reports are placing in the six-year, $50 million range.

"We're talking with a few teams," Dampier said. "At this point I don't really know how this situation is going to pan out. It's been a very interesting situation for me over the last couple of weeks just wondering where I'm going to be."

Dampier told The New York Times for Thursday's editions, however, that the Hawks are not at the competitive stage he's looking for.

"Atlanta's in the rebuilding stage," Dampier told the paper. "I've been at that stage for the last six years. I don't want to be in that position any longer. But I'll consider all options."

If Dampier wants to join the Knicks, it likely will have to be for the mid-level exception, as many of the pieces that could be used in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors look headed to the Bulls in a deal for Jamal Crawford.

Dampier told the AP that he may be ready to consider a one-year contract.

"You get to a certain point in your life where the money's not a factor and you just want to win," he said. "I'm not getting any younger and I want to be in the playoffs so I have a chance to compete for a championship."

For the Knicks, the addition of Dampier in the post would give them another big man for the new big man in the conference -- Shaquille O'Neal of the Miami Heat. Dampier said he has had success against O'Neal in the past. The key, he said, is to keep O'Neal from settling in down low.

"I just try to go out and play him hard. Meet him early every time down the floor and not let him get to the position he's most comfortable in," Dampier said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.