It has been near a month now since the news hit that the Rockets had offered a two year, $4 Million contract to free agent Center Erick Dampier. Since then, Houston has had him in to visit three times but no deal has been reached. Yet he and his agent keep claiming that there are other interested parties, but the Rockets are still "on his list."
We've heard everything from Miami to Milwaukee to even Toronto. Portland has been mentioned a few times and now even Phoenix is said to be showing some interest. We all know what this is from the 35 year old veteran of fourteen NBA seasons...he doesn't want to attend two-a-days or training camp in general. It is something that is quite common from a guy of his age in the league. It's quite a bit more prevalent in the NFL than the NBA, but it happens in the association as well.
If his intentions are to sign with Houston, the earliest it would happen would be after the team returns from China. It's seriously doubtful he would have wanted to make that trip and it gets him just two more games in the preseason. Time enough to get a small grasp of the system and what his role on the team would be. But it's time to stop the posturing and make a decision already. Because his decision could have a great effect on this team for many reasons. Let's talk it over after the jump...
It's no secret that most Rockets fans aren't particularly fond of Dampier. Everyone remembers him running his mouth about Carl Landry last year and questioning his toughness. And who could forget his now legendary "I'm the 2nd best Center in the NBA behind Shaq" statement from the 2004 playoff series with the Rockets? I know I haven't. But is that enough for me to say that I would no way want him on the roster this season? Not really.
Look, the guy is a moron who shouldn't ever be allowed to talk to the media. That much he has proven the past few years. But he could help this team, no question. With "The Big Question Mark" (that's Yao, in case you missed it) as your half a game specialist this season, minutes will be available. Sure, that's what the team signed Brad Miller for, but they don't want to be caught with their pants down again like they were last year when they started 6'6" Chuck Hayes at Center for 82 games if Miller doesn't work out. The Boston Celtics proved last year that you can never have too much size on the roster.
Lots of people have pointed out that Houston has three or four guys that CAN play Center if needed. But no other team with a legitimate big man is going to be shaking in the sneakers at the thought of Chuck Hayes posting them up or Jordan Hill defending them. A triple threat in the middle of true Centers like Yao Ming, Brad Miller and Erick Dampier is a great mix.
But the guy needs to make a damn decision already. Another large reason is because it could seriously effect the status of a guy like Ishmael Smith, who is working his tail off to earn a spot on the teams final roster. If Dampier signs with the Rockets, Smith could be the odd man out.
Another reason him signing with Houston could be a good thing is that it gives GrungeDave the chance to bring back the Ruminations From The Bench segment we all loved so much. As I think Dampier could fit that role well, especially if he talks to the media. Which he has shown an uncanny knack to do.
So, as you can see, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I am all for it, even at the risk of possibly losing Ishmael Smith. Who I like a lot. But depth at Center wins more games than depth at the point.
But, seriously, Damp...make a decision or shut up already...