Proximity to home, minutes and a chance to play for a contender all played a part in free agent Erick Dampier‘s decision to choose Houston over Toronto. The veteran center agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockets on Friday for the bi-annual exception of $2.08 million.
“Erick believes had can help push Houston over the top,” Dampier’s agent Dan Fegan told NBA.com. “[Houston general manager] Daryl Morey and [coach] Rick Adelman asked Damp to watch their games to see how he would fit in there. He’s joining a very good team and will have an opportunity to play.”
Playing time behind and in place of Yao Ming is definitely there. The plan for the oft-injured All-Star center is to limit Yao to 24 minutes per game and to sit him out in one game of a back-to-back.
Dampier has started for most of his 14-year career, and owns career averages of 7.8 points and 7.4 rebounds. The Rockets and Dampier know each other well. Dampier has played for Southwest Division rival Dallas for the last six years.
Houston, currently with the maximum 15 players on its roster, has to make room for Dampier.
“The Rockets still have to clear up a roster spot,” Fegan said. “We hope that will take place quickly.”
Fegan said Dampier seriously considered Toronto, which he visited during the offseason along with other teams such as Miami.
“It was a really close decision between Toronto and Houston,” Fegan said. “[Raptors general manager] Bryan Colangelo made a really compelling argument that Damp could have a long-term future in Toronto.”
The Raptors were also offering a one-year contract for the minimum, but had discussed the possibility of a long-term deal if Dampier had a strong season.
Dampier, 35, still has a home in Dallas. He was traded to Charlotte in July and waived by the Bobcats last month in a salary-cap move.
“Toronto was a good situation, but at the end of the day the distance from home also factored into the decision,” Fegan said.