Atlanta Hawks Free Agency: Erick Dampier Unlikely To Join Hawks

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Free-Agent Center Erick Dampier To Visit 'Sleeper' Hawks, Two Other Teams

We pointed out yesterday Mark Berman’s report that the Hawks plan to court the recently waived Erick Dampier, a defensive-oriented veteran of 14 NBA seasons. Today, it appears that the interest between the Hawks and Dampier is mutual. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Dampier will visit with the Hawks, Heat, and Rockets in the coming days to decide on his future. While Wojnarowski classifies the Hawks as a “potential sleeper” to actually land the coveted center, the fact that Dampier has put them on his shortlist is certainly a reason for optimism.

Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops, SB Nation’s Hawks blog, weighed Dampier’s pros and cons yesterday. While he would certainly help the team as a legitimate backup center to Al Horford, the real issue is that signing him to a fair contract would put Atlanta over the luxury-tax barrier. Willis says it seems “highly unlikely” that the Hawks would commit to paying the tax for merely a backup center, especially considering they just signed Etan Thomas on the cheap to “provide some of the toughness and size that they have been chasing for two seasons now.”

We’ll see how it all shakes out in the coming days. While Wojnarowski does not mention a timetable for Dampier’s decision in his report, it seems likely that he would like to choose a new team before training camps open at the end of this month.

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Hawks Turn Attention To Veteran Center Erick Dampier

So far this offseason, the Hawks have tried to address their need for a reliable big man by re-signing Jason Collins, signing Josh Powell, and signing Etan Thomas. They may not be finished; Mark Berman of Fox Houston reports that the Hawks have joined the Heat, Raptors, and Rockets in making overtures to Erick Dampier. The Charlotte Bobcats waived the 14-year veteran earlier this week in order to clear his $13 million salary from their books.

Atlanta may have an advantage over most teams because it can still offer Dampier the full mid-level exception, as it has yet to use it this offseason. The money comes atop the almost surefire guarantee of ample playing time, as he would give the Hawks an effective, physical defender in the low post to use against the East’s burliest centers, such as Orlando’s Dwight Howard.

Dampier owns career averages of 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots. Additionally, he does not make many mistakes on offense, having converted more than 60 percent of his shot attempts in each of the last four years.

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Shaq Signs With Boston Celtics, Not Atlanta Hawks

After the Hawks apparently couldn’t afford his services, Shaquille O’Neal has signed with the Celtics for the league minimum $1.4 million.

Peachtree Hoops commenters: disappointed or relieved?

Jeff Schultz: disappointed.

The book on Shaq seems to be that he’s as over the hill as a future Hall of Famer can be, making him the perfect fit for the Celtics. He’ll love playing for a team that staggers through regular seasons and turns it on for the playoffs. The Hawks, of course, are the exact opposite, thriving in games that don’t count. Shaq to Boston is simply a perfect match between player and team.

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Hawks Re-Sign Jason Collins

While the possibility of adding free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal lingers, the Atlanta Hawks made another move to shore up their frontcourt by re-signing Jason Collins, reports Lang Whitaker of SLAM Online.

A nine-year veteran, Collins played in 24 games for the Hawks last year, averaging 0.7 points and 0.6 rebounds. He provides size and fouls to use defensively against the league’s beefier centers.

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Hawks Official Says Atlanta 'Still Exploring' Signing Shaquille O'Neal

Sekou Smith of NBA.com did some digging over the weekend and learned the Atlanta Hawks may not have abandoned their pursuit of free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal after all:

An extended conversation with one Hawks official over the weekend led to at least a few minutes of discussion about the Big Teamless One. And despite rumblings to the contrary, the Hawks have not abandoned the idea of O’Neal joining the size-deficient frontline rotation that already includes All-Star center Al Horford, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up and power forward Josh Smith, starting small forward Marvin Williams and reserves like Zaza Pachulia and Josh Powell (whose signing has yet to be announced officially).

“The Shaq situation is not a dead subject for us,” the Hawks official told me. “We are still exploring the possibilities.”

Smith worked the Hawks beat for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for five years, according to his NBA.com bio, so there’s no reason to doubt his connections or authenticity.

Smith, rather boldly, says the only “glitch” that could stop Shaq from landing in Atlanta is “another team sliding in there and taking Shaq off the market before the Hawks can get their affairs in order.”

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Tomasson: Hawks Ownership "Ruling Out" Signing Shaquille O'Neal

Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse reports that the Atlanta Hawks have eliminated free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal from their wishlist due to financial concerns.

A source close to the situation said Thursday that Atlanta’s ownership doesn’t want to exceed the luxury-tax threshold of $70.307 million. The Hawks are about $4 million shy right now.

Tomasson emphasizes this point later when he writes, “the directive from ownership to not exceed the luxury tax has altered” the Hawks’ interest.

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