Free agent Dampier inks 1-year deal with Rockets

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HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets bolstered their front court Friday when Erick Dampier agreed to a one-year deal.

A person familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made, confirmed the agreement. It first was reported by The Houston Chronicle and KRIV-TV.

The 6-foot-11 Dampier, who will enter his 15th season, played the last six years with Dallas. The Mavericks traded the 35-year-old Dampier to Charlotte in July, and the Bobcats voided his contract for the upcoming season, making him a free agent.

The Rockets are limiting 7-6 center Yao Ming to no more than 24 minutes per game as he comes back from foot surgery that sidelined him all of last season.

Dampier, 35, started his career with Indiana and played seven seasons in Golden State. His best season was 2003-04, when he averaged 12.3 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was traded to the Mavericks the following summer, and averaged 6.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in six seasons in Dallas.

Yao started and played 23 minutes in Houston's opening loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, then sat out the Rockets' loss to Golden State on Thursday. The Rockets plan to rest Yao for one game when they play on consecutive days.

Chuck Hayes started at center against the Warriors. The 6-6 Hayes was Houston's starting center last season. Brad Miller, signed in the offseason to back up Yao, played 25 minutes against the Lakers and three against the Warriors.