Erick Dampier’s Murky Future

AP has the story: “Rod Higgins was general manager of the Golden State Warriors in 2004 when he helped negotiate what seemed like a routine sign-and-trade deal involving center Erick Dampier. Six years later, Higgins is on the other side of the country in a new job as GM of the Charlotte Bobcats. And now he holds what’s become one of the most valuable contracts in recent memory—the last year of Dampier’s unique, voidable $13 million deal. Dubbed the ‘Dust Chip’ because a team can trade for Dampier, then waive him and his contract will disappear like a cloud of dust, it’s considered gold for teams like the Bobcats seeking salary-cap relief. The 35-year-old veteran has become a get-out-of-jail-free card, a way to achieve financial flexibility and avoid the choke-hold the luxury tax presents. …’It is quite interesting, being with Erick on the front end and the back end of this deal,’ Higgins said, breaking into a chuckle. ‘I’ve also changed teams to get that done.’ Higgins’ cell phone is busy these days. Starting Monday, 60 days after the Bobcats acquired Dampier from Dallas, the Bobcats can package his contract in another multiplayer deal. It’s a chance for the Bobcats to hand off Dampier’s contract to another team seeking to reduce payroll and get a key player in return. That means just two weeks before teams open training camp, Dampier has no idea where he’ll play this season—or for what salary. It’s all because he failed to achieve the playing-time clause in his seven-year, $73 million deal last season, making the last year non-guaranteed. It’s a rarity in the NBA, where almost all contracts outside of fringe players are fully guaranteed. ‘For me, it’s just limbo,’ said Dampier, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in May. ‘I don’t really know what’s going to happen.'”