Dampier was in the last year of a seven-year, $73 million deal, but the $13 million for this season wasn’t guaranteed because he failed to meet playing time requirements.
The Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats, desperate to get their payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $70.3 million, traded center Tyson Chandler to Dallas in July in a five-player trade that included Dampier’s contract.
At first, Charlotte wasn’t content in just waiving Dampier to clear cap room. Starting Monday, they could’ve packaged Dampier’s contract in a multiplayer deal, possibly for a needed point guard. But the Bobcats found no takers in a deal that also would have kept Charlotte below the luxury tax.
“We explored several trade possibilities involving Erick, but ultimately we have been unable to find a viable option that we felt made our team better,” general manager Rod Higgins said. “Out of respect to Erick, we have decided to release him at this time so he may pursue opportunities with other teams prior to training camp.”
Once he clears waivers, the 35-year-old Dampier will be free to sign for any team for any salary. Miami, looking for help in the middle to round out its superstar lineup, could be a possibility.
It leaves the Bobcats with uncertainty at center and point guard. Chandler, who was acquired last year from New Orleans for Emeka Okafor, had an injury-plagued season with Charlotte and the Bobcats used Theo Ratliff as the starting center in the playoffs. Ratliff is gone, leaving Nazr Mohammed the likely starter going into training camp.
The Bobcats also lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to New York in free agency. D.J. Augustin, last season’s backup, and newly signed Shaun Livingston will contend for the job unless Charlotte makes anther move.
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