“Mike Dunleavy said a trade involving center Marcus Camby — or anyone else — was not something he envisioned happening soon. I don’t see us probably making a deal imminently in any way, but you never know when a call could come in,’ he said, declining to specifically address trade rumors involving Camby. Asked if he would be reluctant to trade Camby, who ranks among the league leaders in rebounding and blocked shots, Dunleavy said, ‘When you have a stock that’s going up, you don’t want to sell it. When it’s going down, nobody wants to buy it. The only deals that get done are when teams somehow come to some equitable deal that makes sense to make people better for whatever the reason might be.’ Do the Clippers have a surplus of talent at Camby’s position? ‘Not the last time I checked,’ Dunleavy said.”
The NBA trade deadline isn’t until February 18th, but that won’t stop the inquiries and floating rumors regarding Marcus Camby. Let’s examine some of the reasons why Marcus Camby is so valuable on the trade market.
- Marcus Camby has been the best player on the floor in multiple games for the Clippers this year, but his value around the league has more to do with his expiring 9.15 million dollar contract than his impressive play. Expiring contracts are always valued commodities around the trade deadline, but this year they are practically gold. The 2010 free agency class, headlined by some fella named LeBron James, is easily the greatest the NBA has ever seen. Every team in the league would love to knock 9 million off the books and position themselves in the running for the services of a LeBron, Wade, or Bosh. Acquiring Camby would be smart for any team; it’s good for basketball and business alike.
- Camby exemplifies all the qualities that make the perfect veteran big man. At age 35, he remains one of the league’s premier rebounders and shot blockers and has shown he’s still more than capable of anchoring an entire defensive unit. In the playoff setting, where half court defensive stands and rebounding become paramount, Camby is the ideal frontline player. His extensive playoff experience means he’s battle tested and knows the level of intensity required for playoff success. At the tail end of a great yet championship free career, he’s likely extremely hungry for another crack at a ring as well. Remember how a running on empty P.J. Brown played during the Celtics championship run two years back? It’s easy to see Camby filling a similar role.
Ability to Mesh
- The main concern most general managers have with dealing at the trade deadline is how a player will mesh with his new surroundings. Team chemistry is a fickle thing, but Marcus Camby’s skill set all but alleviates any real concerns. Camby has proven he can be effective as both a power forward and a center and has shown no ego in regards to playing time. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, Camby can operate as a distributor at the high post, play around the rim, and act as the lone big man on the floor if necessary. Perhaps the most underrated aspect from a chemistry standpoint is that Marcus Camby doesn’t steal shots away from other players. Camby can be seamlessly inserted into most any lineup and given any role without the wheels stopping.
There’s no question that Camby is going to be pursued quite heavily by playoff contenders and teams looking to enter the free agency race, but what will the Clippers be asking in return for Camby?
For as valuable as he would be to a contender, his expiring contract makes him just as valuable to the Clippers. If the Clippers let Camby’s contract expire, they’ll have plenty of cap room to be a major player in this summer’s market. With Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman all locked up through the 2011 season, it seems logical that the Clippers would target a small forward to round out the starting lineup. Although Al Thornton has made improvements this year, it’s tough to argue that he meshes properly with the other four starters. Rasual Butler was supposed to be the answer at small forward, but with his jumper on the back of the milk carton he’s basically a glorified Mardy Collins. The reasoning behind the Butler signing was correct, but Butler hasn’t proven himself to be the outside shooter required to fill the role. So where should the Clippers go from here?
Do they let Camby’s contract expire, then make a run at a Joe Johnson type player in free agency? As enticing as that sounds, there’s the very real possibility that the Clippers aren’t able to secure a big name free agent and are left in the cold without anything to show for Camby. Would securing a better version of Butler during the season, like a Tayshaun Prince, be the way to go? If the Clippers have a chance to acquire someone on a long term deal from a team desperate for cap space, like a Luol Deng, should they take it? Any way you slice it, letting Camby’s contract expire is a serious gamble, as there will undoubtedly be plenty of attractive offers the Clippers would have to pass on.
So where exactly does LeBron James fit into this? Well, there’s gambling, and then there’s putting your life savings into lottery tickets. What are the chances of LeBron joining the Clippers? Close to zero, but they are zero unless the Clippers are able to cut salary, which could only really be accomplished by moving Kaman or Baron. That raises a whole different question altogether: Can Camby be used as the asset to unload a more undesirable contract?
Nearly all of it will depend on the stretch of basketball put together by the Clippers from early January (when Griffin returns) to early February. After that period, Dunleavy will have a more accurate gauge on whether the team will be able to contend for a playoff spot. If they are, it surely becomes more difficult to essentially punt the season away by trading your defensive standout, doesn’t it? This situation brings some of the difficulties of being solely responsible for all basketball decisions to light. With Griffin, and now again with Camby, Dunleavy would be wise to exercise some patience, even if he’s in a less than ideal situation to do so.