Miami Heat Elect to Pass on Signing Erick Dampier
The Miami Herald reported Friday that the Heat decided not to pursue retaining Dampier's services as a free agent. It's not known at this time whether the Heat elected to pass on Dampier because of injury concerns or the general vibe Dampier was giving off, but Ira Winderman reports it was largely due to the Heat's confidence in the four centers they have on their roster, including Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
For all that confidence, though, the selection is curious. Joel Anthony is 6-9 on his tippy toes and Ilgauskas is longer in the tooth than Dampier (by a whole month!). Dampier would have added a bigger, bulkier body to do the dirty work, something Chris Bosh isn't exactly known for, being best in the face-up game at his more natural power forward position. And for a team that's clearly looking to add veterans that know how to win, adding Dampier would have been adding a player that's seen the playoffs nearly every season for the past six years.
Instead, the Heat will be relying on Anthony, Ilgauskas and Jamal Magliore to fight Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Joakim Noah, Kendrick Perkins and hopefully Andrew Bynum in the playoffs. Ilgauskas certainly has the height, but Dampier's frame is best suited for the war in the trenches, especially on offensive rebounds. Mid-range jumpers aren't really something the Heat are going to be longing for with Wade, Bosh, and James all getting significant touches.
Given that it was the Heat that walked away and not Damp, it's unlikely that money was the issue. Miami only had the veteran's minimum to offer being hard-up against the salary cap, and Dampier's value isn't significantly higher than that (if at all).
Dampier is now considering Houston and Milwaukee, a source told FanHouse's Sam Amick, though the Rockets have yet to offer a deal, and the Bucks can only offer the veteran minimum. The question will be if the Heat end up regretting this move in May, as the opponents get bigger, badder, and their centers are unable to hold their own.