Toronto, Portland Added to Dampier's List of Options

Erick Dampier was hoping to take his talents to South Beach.

But in an interview on Sunday, the free agent center said his list of
possible destinations continues to grow in the wake of his recent
spurning from Miami. While FanHouse reported Saturday that Milwaukee had
joined Houston in the pursuit of the 35-year-old veteran, the Bucks and
Rockets have unwanted company.

"I’ve talked to Milwaukee, Toronto, Portland, and one other team," he said after confirming talks with the Rockets as well. "There’s no one in the No. 1 spot. I’m not in a rush. I just want to find the perfect fit and give myself an opportunity to compete for a championship."

Dampier didn’t plan on having to choose, but Charlotte waived him in mid-September to avoid paying the non-guaranteed $13 million he would have earned this season, as well as the luxury tax bill it would have caused. He visited the Heat and appeared to be close to joining LeBron James & Co., but team president Pat Riley on Friday decided the fit wasn’t right.

"I knew the situation there, and in order to sign me they would have had to waive someone," Dampier said. "I wasn’t knowing what to expect, and they already had 18 or 19 guys on their roster, so it wasn’t a sure thing when I went to talk to those guys."

The appeal for the suitors who remain is simple: Dampier can be a quality backup or an insurance option at a crucial position, especially for those teams with injury-prone centers (Yao Ming, Greg Oden, and — to a lesser extent — Andrew Bogut, for example). The Raptors are the only known team in the running with salary-cap space, which — depending on their level of financial interest — gives them the clear financial edge. The Rockets and Portland have their bi-annual exceptions available, meaning they can sign Dampier for up to two years at approximately $2 million per season. The Bucks can only pay the veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million in a one-year deal.

Dampier, who made visits to Miami and Houston, said he is planning more stops before making up his mind.

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