Dampier nixes talk of return to Dallas

Updated: July 16, 2010, 4:46 PM ET
Associated Press

Erick Dampier began his pro career playing for Larry Brown. He's not opposed to finishing it playing for Brown again, even if the Charlotte Bobcats void the final year of his contract.

The newly acquired center indicated Friday the Bobcats would get the first chance to re-sign him -- presumably for a much smaller salary -- if they decide to wipe out the non-guaranteed $13 million due in the final year of his deal to clear salary-cap space.

Dampier
Dampier

"I would obviously give Charlotte the first opportunity and see what they say, see if they're interested in me or not," Dampier said. "Then we'll go from there. If they're not interested in me I'm sure there are other teams out there that could possibly be interested."

The 6-foot-11 Dampier's career began in Indiana when he was the 10th overall pick of the Pacers, then coached by the well-traveled Brown.

"Practices were hard. He was hard on the rookies, but he's a good coach," Dampier said.

The Bobcats acquired the 34-year-old Dampier from Dallas on Tuesday in a five-player deal. The Mavericks had been dangling Dampier for weeks to teams in need of salary cap relief, with dreams as robust as using his contract in a sign-and-trade to get LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

That didn't happen, and the Mavericks eventually settled on sending Dampier, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera to the Bobcats for centers Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca. While the Mavericks cleared cap space and got two expiring contracts, Dampier helps Charlotte solve its tricky cap situation.

Before the deal, the Bobcats' payroll was only about $3 million shy of reaching the luxury tax territory owner Michael Jordan said they wouldn't reach.

General manager Rod Higgins described Dampier as having "one of the most valuable contracts in the league." Higgins indicated the Bobcats could waive him, or use his contract in another trade.

Dampier said Higgins has expressed interest in possibly re-signing him if they void his deal. He expects discussions to heat up this weekend.

"For me it's just limbo. I don't really know what's going to happen at this point," Dampier said. "I'm working out and my main focus has pretty much been on working out. I let my agent take care of all the contract negotiations."

Dampier averaged 6.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last season, but was held to 55 games because of left knee pain. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in May, but could be valuable to the Bobcats. With Chandler and Ajinca gone, the only remaining centers are Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop.

"I've been a starter all my life. If they see me coming off the bench then there's not a problem with that," Dampier said. "I fit in both positions."

The trade also brings Carroll back to Charlotte. The 3-point specialist was traded to the Mavericks in the 2008-09 season after not fitting into Brown's system and failing to adjust his game to become more of a driver.

But the Bobcats' lack of outside shooting was exposed in their first-round playoff sweep against Orlando.

"Looking at the team and looking at the areas the Bobcats can improve on I think going back to what I do best is something that they can benefit from," Carroll said. "I'm going to try to get back to where I was before."

While Najera will provide a defensive specialist to the frontcourt, Dampier isn't sure where he'll end up. He did squash any talk of returning to Dallas since the Mavericks are now loaded at center.

"The sooner the better so both sides will know one way or the other," Dampier said. "I talk to my agent about it every other day or so and he's been in contact with Rod and Mike so we'll see what happens from this point on."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press