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Heat likely to sign Erick Dampier while Haslem will have surgery on foot

Nov 22, 2010, 5:54 PM EST

Erick Dampier

Just as the news becomes official that Udonis Haslem will have foot surgery and be out for months, word of his replacement comes in.

The Heat are very close to signing Erick Dampier to a contract, according to Marc Stein at ESPN. Dampier had worked out for the Heat this summer and hinted that is where he wanted to play after being waived by the Bobcats, but Pat Riley decided not to go that direction.

Well, until his hand was forced this weekend. Haslem’s agent confirmed to the Associated Press what everybody had been thinking for days — Haslem is going to have to have surgery on his foot and will be out for months. The hoped for return date is around the All-Star game.

Dampier — if he is healthy and playing at the level he did last year, which is in question after a number of teams shied away from deals with him — would be the best center the Heat have on the roster. He’s not the best shot blocker, he’s not the best offensive player, but he is a solid rebounder and a better combination of those things than the Heat have in any other one big man.

To bring in Dampier, the Heat will have to buy out one of the players on the roster. They have 15 players on their active roster, the max allowed by the league, and all are fully guaranteed for this season, so the team will have to buy someone out. (Just a guess — center Jamaal Maglorie has played less than anyone else.)

The Heat will have other options and experiments to try as well, look for coach Erik Spoelstra to try all kinds of innovative lineups in the next month, looking for a combination that works.

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