Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida caught up this weekend with Sacramento Kings free agent center Samuel Dalembert, who is currently in his native Haiti. Not surprisingly, Dalembert spoke glowingly about the prospect of playing for the Miami Heat, a team in desperate need of a center and only a two hour flight away from Haiti. Quotes like, “That would be fantastic” and “I’m keeping all my options open, but Miami could be a good fit for me,” might sting for some Kings fans who were hoping to retain the eight year veteran, but keep in mind that anything can happen in free agency.
The Miami Heat are under the luxury tax threshold coming into free agency, but can only offer Dalembert the mid-level exemption (MLE). Under the new proposed collective bargaining settlement, the MLE for non-tax paying teams begins at $5 million a year for a maximum of four years with annual increases of 3%. That is a far cry from the unlimited five year contract with 7.5% increases the Kings could offer Dalembert, but there is no guarantee that the Kings are interested in retaining last season’s starting center.
On the first day of training camp last season, Dalembert injured his adductor which caused him to miss all of pre-season and the first game of the season. Although he got off to a slow start, Dalembert played well from mid-January on, posting 15 of his 16 double-doubles on the season after January 18th.
In his interview with Tomasson, Dalembert mentioned the possibility of playing next to Amaré Stoudemire in New York or replacing the retired Yao Ming in Houston, as well as Miami. A possible return to Sacramento was not brought up in the article, but there is no telling if that was intentional or not. Either way, Miami is a lot closer to both Haiti and Dalembert’s off-season home in Boca Raton, Florida, so don’t be surprised if the Kings have a tough time retaining him.