Erick Dampier Considers Bucks, Rockets as Kyrylo Fesenko Waits
Dampier was leaning heavily toward taking his talents to South Beach in recent days, but Heat president Pat Riley balked when he considered the potentially-challenging dynamic between his big men. So the Heat opted to enter the season with Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and the newly-added Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and the 35-year-old Dampier now finds himself having to determine which of the many factors in his decision matters most.
It could be argued that Bucks offer the best basketball decision, as Dampier would see significant time playing behind center Andrew Bogut. He was told as much by Scott Skiles, according to the sources, as he spoke with the Bucks coach recently about how he would fit and was pleased with the tone of the discussion.
Houston, meanwhile, is far more uncertain in terms of his role in the rotation. Yao Ming is expected to be limited to 24 minutes per game as a precautionary measure, but free agent signee Brad Miller is expected to be Yao's first backup and Chuck Hayes routinely slides over to the position.
The Rockets, however, have the clear financial edge. Whereas Milwaukee can only offer a veteran's minimum deal of $1.3 million for one season, Houston can offer its bi-annual exception worth a combined $4 million over two years, or a one-year deal if Dampier so prefers.
The Rockets have not presented Dampier with an offer, but they have made their genuine interest clear. The Bucks are believed to be ready to move forward with him as soon as he makes a decision.
Ukrainian center Kyrylo Fesenko is waiting in the wings, as the 7-foot-1, fourth-year pro has held off on signing a one-year, $1.03 million qualifying offer from Utah because he is still being seriously considered by the Rockets. If Dampier heads for Milwaukee or the Rockets simply make the 23-year-old Fesenko their top priority by late Sunday, the Jazz will have the opportunity to match any offer. While Dampier is clearly the known commodity, Fesenko -- who prefers to resolve the situation before the Jazz have Media Day on Monday and start training camp on Tuesday -- is clearly the long-term investment with plenty of upside.
Fesenko was good enough to help Utah win its first-round series against Denver last postseason despite the Jazz missing Mehmet Okur. The Jazz starter tore his left Achilles in Game 1, and Fesenko was the starter in the nine games that followed against the Nuggets and then the Lakers in a second-round loss.
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