- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 7, 2004

The Washington Wizards are one of “at least eight teams” that have expressed interest in signing unrestricted free agent center Erick Dampier, two sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Dampier had the best season of his career for the Golden State Warriors in 2003-04. He was one of just 12 players in the league who averaged a double-double, finishing with 12.3 points, 12 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game.

Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld was unavailable last night for comment. Grunfeld, however, does not comment publicly on player-personnel issues.

Other teams that have expressed interest in signing Dampier are the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks, according to one of the sources. Dampier has said he prefers to play for a team with playoff potential.

Dampier, who was a teammate of current Wizards Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Antawn Jamison in Golden State, would not come cheaply for the Wizards, who are about $5million below the projected $45million salary cap for next season.

Because of the lack of quality centers in the league, any team that signs Dampier likely will overpay for his services. Dampier opted out of the final two years on his deal, leaving roughly $17million on the table.

Dampier, 29, reportedly is looking for at least $10-12million a year over the next four or five seasons.

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