If true, it could end Dampier pursuit

Updated: August 6, 2004, 5:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Erick Dampier may be willing to take the Knicks' $4.9 million mid-level exception ... but is it already gone?

Vin Baker's agent, Aaron Goodwin, told ESPN Insider Chad Ford on Thursday that Baker already has agreed to a multiyear contract with the Knicks that starts at $3.5 million -- eating most of New York's mid-level exception.

"Vin is done," Goodwin told Ford. "The [Knicks] mid-level is gone. ... Vin [contract] starts at $3.5 [million], which negates Dampier for mid-level."

While there had been previous rumblings about the Knicks' interest in re-signing Baker, talk of the team using part of its larger exception to get him comes as a surprise. There had been previous suggestions that Baker might take the Knicks $1.6 million veteran's exception instead. Thursday's The Journal News (Westchester/Putnam counties, NY) reported that a source confirmed that the Knicks had used the smaller exception to keep Baker for this season, with a team option for a second year.

Goodwin, however, dismissed that scenario as an option.

"I would never take $1.6 million for Vin. That is not negotiating, it is accepting, which I never have or will do without a fight," he told Ford.

The Knicks have yet to officially announce a deal with Baker. A phone call to the team for comment wasn't returned.

If the deal with Baker is done, the Knicks may be out of luck with Dampier. Repeated attempts to work out a sign-and-trade with the Warriors for Dampier have fallen short, with Golden State GM Chris Mullin having rejected two sign-and-trade offers that included Nazr Mohammed and Kurt Thomas.

Without the mid-level or a sign-and-trade, the Knicks have no way of adding Dampier. Dampier has also been talking to the Hawks and has reportedly been offered a six-year, $50 million dollar contract for them. However, he's been reluctant to join a team that is rebuilding.

Dampier, who averaged 12.3 points and 12.0 rebounds a game last season for the Warriors, visited the Knicks on Wednesday and suggested that he was looking more for a chance to play for a contender than for a big contract.

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

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE