GREENBURGH, N.Y. - With Shaquille O'Neal rumbling back into the East Conference, free-agent center Erick Dampier believes he could be the Knicks' ticket to derail The Diesel.
"I don't know a lot of people who played him the way I did last season," said Dampier, the former Warrior who met coach Lenny Wilkens at the Knicks' practice facility Wednesday. "Definitely, they would need somebody to compete against him."
Although the Hawks have a three- or four-year offer starting at $8-million on the table, Dampier indicated the Knicks were his first choice. "They have a great coach, and enough quality pieces on their team," he said. "The only thing they need is a center. I think I could be part of something special."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in 17 career games against Dampier, O'Neal has shot 58.4 percent from the field and averaged 25.1 points and 11.5 rebounds; Dampier has shot 39.8 percent with 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds.
HAWKS-MAVS TRADE: The Mavericks traded Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to the Hawks for Jason Terry, Alan Henderson and a first-round draft pick.
76ERS-PISTONS TRADE: Detroit acquired Derrick Coleman and Amal McCaskill from Philadelphia in a trade for Corliss Williamson.
HEAT, MAGIC PRESEASON: Miami's seven-game schedule will open at Houston on Oct. 10. Only one exhibition game will be played in Miami. A neutral-site matchup with Orlando is on Oct. 15 in Tampa.
Orlando's first of seven preseason games is Oct. 12 at home against Memphis. Former Magic star Tracy McGrady returns Oct. 23 with Houston. HORNETS: Former Mavericks coach and Bulls and Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons joined the team as an assistant coach. Cleamons was an assistant to Phil Jackson on title teams in Chicago and Los Angeles. He coached Dallas for 11/2 seasons.
SPURS: The team signed veteran forward Tony Massenburg and re-signed forward Sean Marks.
T'WOLVES: The team matched Portland's offer for restricted free agent Trenton Hassell.
WIZARDS: The team signed free-agent forward Samaki Walker, who won a title in 2002 with the Lakers.
WNBA: Chamique Holdsclaw doesn't want to say why she has missed three of Washington's last four games. The team has described it as a "minor medical condition," and in her first interview on the subject, the WNBA's second-leading scorer tried to put a few rumors to rest.
"You say, "health issues,' people automatically think you're pregnant," Holdsclaw told the Washington Times and WJLA-TV Tuesday. "Well, I'm not pregnant, I don't have cancer. ... I'm not addicted to any type of drug."
Holdsclaw said she is not revealing the nature of her problem because it is a private matter.