Dampier A Knick?

[NOTE: The notation in parenthesis is (Offensive PER / Defensive PER / +/- Roland Rating). For more information on this, look here, but quickly a PER of 15 is about average, while the higher the +/- is the better off the player.]

According to the NY Post, the Knicks are waiting for Dampier to choose their deal over more money with the Hawks. Apparently the Knicks are offering Dampier a 6 year contract starting at $9M. The Hawks can offer him a maximum deal, because well they’re the Hawks. The Knicks would send Othella Harrington and Nazr Mohammed to Golden State in this sign and trade deal.

Dampier has had his second fine season in a row (21/14/+1.1). Last year, he had a career high in PTS, REB, FG%, and minutes played. Dampier’s biggest improvement is in his FG% which has gone up every year since 2001 (40%, 44%, 50%, 54%). Erick’s other strength seems to be his offensive rebounding, where he got 14.3% of all possible offensive rebounds. How good is that?

Damp 14.3% 22.2%
Deke 10.1% 19.1%
Nazr 11.5% 20.3%
Shaq 10.1% 20.3%
Ben 10.7% 22.2%
Brand 10.1% 16.8%
Duncan 9.4% 24.3%

It’s possible that Dampier’s numbers were inflated by weak rebounders on his team, or aided by the Warriors’ system, but nonetheless they are impressive. His rebounding should drop as a Knick, but exactly how much will be unknown.

In Harrington & Mohammed, the Knicks are giving away an average of 6.6PF/48 minutes. Looking at their worst offenders in this category, only one of their top 4 might be back next year (Vin Baker). Dampier only averages 4.5PF/48, which gives New York an improvement in this area. This is important for New York, as they were third worst team in the league in letting their opponents get to the foul line.

If they didn’t get a better player, Nazr (18.8/17.7/-2.8) would have been the Knicks starting center. His offensive PER was a respectable 18.8, but he gave almost all of it back on the defensive end (17.7). Also his propensity to commit fouls (5.8PF/48) kept him from staying in the game at times. Harrington (10/16/-3.7) was at his best decent, but he received less playing time as Sweetney developed into a solid option near the end of the season.

Everything looks like a steal for New York until you hit the books. Golden State gets a young serviceable backup center in Nazr for 2 years and only $5M per. Othella’s $3M comes off the books this year. That’s $8M in cap relief in two years, which is important for a team like Golden State that actually likes to be able to sign free agents without the help of another team.

On the other hand the deal the Knicks are reportedly giving to Dampier is a 6 year deal that starts at $9M. That means in 2009 Dampier will be in the last year of his contract, making about $14.5M (with a 10% yearly raise) at the age of 35. Erick has been healthy the last three years, but a peek at his stats show that he was injury plagued the three years prior. On his list of most similar players are Marvin Webster and Pervis Ellison. Webster stayed healthy until leaving the league, while Ellison’s other nickname was “Out Of Service” Pervis for all the time he missed.

If it goes through, I think this is a good short term deal for the Knicks. Dampier may not put up the monster numbers he did last year, but it’s certainly an upgrade over the Knicks’ centers last year. As a team, New York was outplayed at the center position (15/17/-1.8). There are two distinct risks with this deal. The first is Dampier’s health. Six years is a long time for a deal this big, and nobody knows how those early injuries will affect him down the road. Just last year, Dampier missed the end of the season due to his ankle.

The second is who is the Dampier the Knicks will be getting? There is the Dampier that for the first 6 years of his career was a poor shooting, oft injured center. Then there is the Dampier of the last two years, who has a nicely rounded game. Which one will appear in a New York uniform? Also how will his rebounding numbers change now that he is outside of Golden State? The Knicks are bent on never getting under the salary cap, so acquiring a player like Dampier in exchange for two bench guys seems like a short term no-brainer.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).