When Jason Kidd announced his retirement a lot of New York Knicks fans were hoping Marcus Camby would follow his lead. Not so fast. Camby has more to give on an NBA court and plans to show everyone what he has left next season.
When the New York Knicks pulled off a sign-and-trade deal for Marcus Camby — involving Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and two future draft picks going to the Houston Rockets — that most agree was too costly. However, the reward too was high.
Camby was coming off a season for the Portland Trail Blazers where he averaged 3.8 points, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.9 assists and 8.9 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game. In Houston he averaged 7.1 points, 1.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 1.7 assists and 9.3 rebounds in 24.1 minutes a game.
That averaged out to 4.9 points, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.8 assists and 9.0 rebounds in 22.9 minutes a game for the season. Surely he'd give the Knicks a much needed defensive presence who could control the defensive glass and reduce second chance opportunities for opponents.
It didn't work out that way. Instead, Camby only played in 24 games last season, averaging 1.8 points, 0.6 blocks, 0.3 steals, 0.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 10.4 minutes a game. To compound the problem, players acquired in sign-and-trade deals are required to receive three-year deals and Camby's was worth $13.2 million. Quite a pay day for someone his age and with his injury history.
The strategy was sound but clearly it didn't work out as Glen Grunwald had hoped. Instead of being built like an older Indiana Pacers team with a lot of height, defense and rebounding ability the Knicks just got more old and injury prone. What's worse is the Knicks had other options.
They had basically looked at possibly acquiring Camby and or signing a combination of Ronnie Brewer, Randy Foye, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans. As it turned out the Knicks got Camby from Houston and signed Brewer to a one-year deal worth $854,389. Brewer was later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second round pick, while Camby barely saw the court regardless of health.
Both Blatche and Evans signed with the Brooklyn Nets and Foye ended up with the Utah Jazz. All three had good seasons for their teams. Blatche played center instead of power forward for a whopping $854,389. Evans signed a cheap three-year deal and played like a bulldog for only $1,622,617 last season. Foye had a good year in Utah, playing on a one year deal worth $2,500,000.
Not only were Blatche, Evans and Foye more productive than Camby and Brewer but they were cheaper too. Camby and Brewer cost the Knicks $467,721 more than Blatche, Evans and Foye would have. That's not counting the extra $100,516 needed to sign Kenyon Martin or the trade compensation that went to Houston.
Clearly the Knicks will now have to hope Camby returns back to his normal production. After all, last season was by far his worse of his 17 year career. Before joining the Knicks the lowest amount of blocks he had ever recorded per game was 1.4 and the lowest average rebounds per game he'd recorded was 6.3. Those are the two most important parts of production the Knicks are looking to get from Camby. Those previous career lows are nearly double his production from this past season.
Camby feels his left plantar fasciitis injury is much to blame for his poor year. Even when healthy, he had missed too much time for Mike Woodson to trust him in his rotation. Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports that won't stop Camby from vowing to return to form next season and prove to the Knicks they put their trust in the right player.
Camby's agent Richard Kaplan told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday that the 17-year-veteran is committed to returning next season to be the backup center.
"The game plan is still the same," Kaplan said. "There's no reason to believe he won't be back and won't take on a greater role next season."
Camby is under contract through the 2014-15 season.
"He is focused on being ready to go at the start of the season, since we certainly expect his number to be called far more often next season," Kaplan said.
In the playoffs the Knicks could've used Camby's skills to avoid getting out-rebounded every night and out-worked for second-chance opportunities. After all, that's why Camby was brought back to New York in the first place. Camby turns 40 next March and will clearly be looking to be a bigger part of the rotation in 2013-14. For the Knicks sake, he'd better be.
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