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jayC
08-01-2004, 09:18 PM
West stays patient in center pursuit
Grizzlies keeping tabs on Warriors' Dampier

By Ronald Tillery
Contact
August 1, 2004

Grizzlies president Jerry West hasn't given up on a pursuit for free-agent center Erick Dampier.

Not yet.





Just like West's NBA legacy, his patience apparently is quite long.

Proof is in the amount of time and energy West has used in an attempt to acquire Dampier since July 1 when free agency began. A month later, West is now away on a pre-planned vacation but the Griz are still fishing for Dampier.

"It's been frustrating," West said in a telephone interview. "But this (summer negotiating) is the fun part. I haven't lost patience. You have to be persistent. We're still trying."

Memphis is negotiating a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State - Dampier's former team.

So is New York. So is Indiana. Atlanta, which has money to spend under the salary cap, is waiting to hear if Dampier will accept its recent offer.

Should we expect the Griz to vie for Dampier's services until the former Mississippi State big man officially leaves the free-agent block?

"Yes," West said, "but who knows what will happen?"

The exercise has been trying, and as even West acknowledged, could ultimately prove fruitless. Much like the Knicks, the Griz have tried to entice the Warriors with countless offers.

The New York Post reported recently that Memphis and Atlanta had a pre-arranged deal. Atlanta would sign Dampier and trade him to Memphis in December when free agents can be moved by their new team.

But such a scenario is risky given Dampier's history of injuries. Also, Atlanta could decide to keep Dampier should he perform better than expected.

It is believed that the Griz were close to orchestrating a three-team trade last week. Although the third team is unknown, the Griz would send the Warriors three players and receive Dampier.

None of the potential deals have included Griz forward Stromile Swift, a restricted free agent. Golden State is believed to want Swift, presumably making the price for Dampier too high for Memphis to pay.

West offered no specifics.

"All I can say is we're still working," West said. "I would say that things are very busy but very quiet. There have been a number of times when we thought we were in a good position to get something done.

"But we need a lot of cooperation to get this done. We need us, an agent and another team. Nothing is looming. But we're hopeful."

Dampier is represented by Dan Fegan, who reportedly has tried to steer his client to New York.

Last month, Dampier expressed a desire to play in Memphis and told The Commercial Appeal: "I could be a very important piece for (the Griz)."

The Grizzlies' stated goals following a 50-win season are to improve defensive rebounding, interior defense and perimeter shooting from the bench.

After weeks of phone calls and negotiations, West's lone free-agent acquisition is former Golden State forward Brian Cardinal. The 6-8 big man signed a six-year deal and will likely supplant Bo Outlaw as the hard-working defender and rebounding forward/center off the bench.

Cardinal, unlike Outlaw, will bring much-needed offense in reserve.

Still, adding Cardinal essentially gave the Griz another versatile role player. West has worked the past few summers mainly searching for a center with more size.

The Griz played the past three seasons primarily with Lorenzen Wright in the middle. Wright and backup, Swift, are considered undersized at that position. Despite their productivity, Memphis ranked 25th in defensive rebounding last season, and was 28th in that category during the 2002-03 campaign.

Dampier is coming off his best professional season. He averaged 7.3 defensive rebounds in 74 games. Overall, Dampier averaged 12.3 points, 12 boards and 1.8 blocks - statistics only rivaled by those from his second season, in 1997-98.

West said the Griz would soon pursue "another area that we feel good about" if a Dampier resolution doesn't come soon.

"We're not desperate," West said. "We have a good team and a lot of depth. We may be desperate internally to do something. But we're not desperate to do something that's not wise."

- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

fin4life
08-01-2004, 09:34 PM
memphis could be a very scary team if they get dampier, im pulling for ATL or NY to get him

EricaLubarsky
08-01-2004, 10:08 PM
The odds of acquiring Dampier and acquiring Kidd are about the same, IMO.

We aren't out of either yet.

fin4life
08-01-2004, 10:58 PM
I think we are... but you never know. Once august 24 comes along, we will all be blown away by the trade that cubes has up his sleeve. I just wonder if it will be something similer to what has been posted on this board (if it happens at all)

EricaLubarsky
08-01-2004, 11:09 PM
It seems like Mark Cuban has naked pictures of Christopher Cohan and Stanley Kroenke