Posted on Tue, Aug. 24, 2004

Dampier trade gives Mavs talent at center

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Today, the Mavericks can officially call Erick Dampier one of their own.

In a sign-and-trade deal that involves seven players and a pair of draft picks, the Mavericks have agreed to ship popular forward Eduardo Najera, forward Christian Laettner, rookie guard Luis Flores, forward Mladen Sekularac and two first-round picks to the Golden State Warriors for Dampier, center Evan Eschmeyer and guard Dan Dickau. Donnie Nelson, Mavericks president of basketball operations, said the deal will be finalized today.

The key to the trade is Dampier, a 30-year-old, 6-foot-11, 265-pound center who should provide immediate help for the Mavericks. Last year, he averaged 12.3 points, was fourth in the NBA in rebounds (12 per game), third in field-goal shooting (.535 percent), first in offensive rebounds (4.6) and 15th in blocks (1.85).

"He's one of the top centers in the West," said Nelson, who is in Athens for the Olympic Games. "He's a guy that can block shots and hold down the middle defensively."

The deal, in principle, was announced last week. But since the Mavs acquired Laettner on June 24 from the Washington Wizards, he couldn't be traded for 60 days under terms of the collective-bargaining agreement.

Dickau's availability also came into question since the Warriors obtained him July 20 in a trade from Portland. But Nelson said the Mavs won't have to wait 60 days before they can acquire Dickau since they plan on using their trade exception -- Dickau will make $893,000 next season.

Also, Sekularac and Flores have been added to the trade.

The Mavs drafted Sekularac in the second round (55th overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, and the 6-8 forward played on their summer league team that year. He chose to continue his basketball career in his native Yugoslavia.

Flores wasn't a member of the Mavericks very long. The 6-2 guard from Manhattan was drafted June 24 by the Houston Rockets, and his draft rights were traded to the Mavs later that day.

Laettner, 35, is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $6.187 million next season.

After a summer that linked the Mavericks to trades involving Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, Nelson is glad the team was able to land a center of Dampier's caliber.

"He's a terrific kid," Nelson said. "He's gotten better every year that he's been in the league."


How the Mavericks spent their summer

June 24: Trade F Antawn Jamison and cash to Washington for G Jerry Stackhouse, F Christian Laettner and draft rights to G Devin Harris.

July 1: G Steve Nash accepts six-year, $66 million free-agent offer from Phoenix.

July 14: Sign restricted free agent G Marquis Daniels to five-year, $29.4 million contract.

July 14: Sign free agent C Didier Ilunga-Mbenga.

July 26: Trade F Danny Fortson to Seattle for C Calvin Booth.

July 29: Sign rookie C Pavel Podkolzin.

Aug. 4: Trade F Antoine Walker and G Tony Delk to Atlanta for G Jason Terry, F Alan Henderson and a first-round draft pick.

Today: Trade F Eduardo Najera, F Christian Laettner, G Luis Flores, F Mladen Sekularac and two first-round draft picks to Golden State for C Erick Dampier, C Evan Eschmeyer and G Dan Dickau.

Dwain Price, (817) 390-7760

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