With both the New York Knicks (Jason Kidd) and Miami Heat (Ray Allen) being active in the free agent market over the last week, the two teams seem to be on a collision course in their pursuit of free agent big man Marcus Camby.
According to sources at ESPN, Camby is unwilling to play for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million, meaning that both the Knicks and the Heat will have to complete a sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets in order to acquire the veteran center. Rockets officials are believed to be much more interested in a package the Knicks could put together via trade (using pieces along the lines of Toney Douglas, Josh Harrelson and Jerome Jordan) versus what the Heat could offer, giving the Knicks the slight edge of the competition.
The Knicks only have the mini Mid Level Exception to use in the free agent market, and both Kidd and Camby will command salaries that match that figure. They can acquire both, as stated above, if one player signs for the MLE, while the other is acquired via sign-and-trade.
As Kidd did earlier this week, Camby would fill a huge hole on the Knicks bench. With the injuries that have haunted Tyson Chandler throughout the majority of his career, it is important not only for the Knicks to sign a reliable back-up center, but someone that could slide into the starting line-up without losing much in terms of production. In 59 games last season, Camby averaged 4.9 points and 9.0 rebounds, splitting time between the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets.
This would be a second tour of duty in New York for Camby, so you know he can handle the market and atmosphere. He was a huge part of the surprise strike-shortened Eastern Conference Championship team after he was brought in from the Toronto Raptors.
Camby would do everything the Knicks desperately need from their back-up big. They don’t need someone who has to command the ball on offense. Instead, they need someone who can guard any other team’s big with success and ahs the ability to be a force on the offensive and defensive boards. Camby has a lot of miles on his legs, but the Knicks will likely only look to him to play somewhere in the range of 20 minutes a night, depending on Chandler’s health and foul trouble.
With the additions of Jason Kidd and, potentially, Marcus Camby, the Knicks bench becomes much deeper than in years past. Add in the likely re-signings of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, plus the eventual return of Iman Shumpert, and the Knicks will be able to run 9-10 deep with ease.
Camby and Kidd aren’t the young names that will excite fans and put more people into the Garden. But, they’re exactly what the Knicks need.
And that, above everything else, is most important for the Knicks this off-season.