Giving Away Marcus Camby Should Not Be The Sum Total Of The Plan
July 16th, 2008

The Denver Nuggets traded former DPOY Marcus Camby to the L.A. Clippers yesterday, for, essentially, nothing. The Nuggets got no more than the right to swap second-round picks with L.A. in 2010, a year in which the Clippers will have the lower pick anyway, meaning that Denver won’t be exercising the option. That’s it. That was their return. That was what they got.

That was what they got for Marcus, freaking, Camby.

Marcus Camby is a former DPOY award winner. He may have another one left in him yet, too. Camby is a high calibre player – last year, he averaged 13.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game. 13.1 rebounds per game is a lot of rebounds. And 3.6 is a hell of a lot of blocks. He can pass, and also shoot 20-footers, if you give him a week to load them up and 40 feet of elbow room.

Camby is a rare commodity in this league; he is a centre that isn’t static. He is at the peak of his career, and strangely also at his peak physical condition, having set his new personal best for games played in a season with a commendable 79 appearances last year. Without wanting to go overboard and do something silly, such as calling him a dynamic two-way player, it’s safe to say that Camby is one of the best at his position, the position that is so hard to fill that General Managers will consistently try anything to try and strike gold.

In a league where most executives would willingly sacrifice their closest family members to get an elite centre, the Clippers now have two. And they’re not even overpaid. They got one of them for freakin’ nothing.

How does Marcus Camby fit alongside Wolfgang Kaman? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. He’s going to better their team simply by not being Aaron Williams. The Clippers just bagged a huge infusion of quality to their team, and all they had to do was not overpay Luol Deng. If they can now trade for Vince Carter using little more than Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas to do so, then suddenly they’re dancing. A front seven of Carter, Camby, Kaman, Baron Davis, Al Thornton, Quinton Ross and Eric Gordon could break 50 wins, even without Elton Brand or a bench.

And yet, somehow, Denver couldn’t even get a first-round pick for him? Is that even possible?

Is instant salary relief really THAT important? Why has this come up now? Why could they not have used the Warriors’ and Sixers’ cap room, before they spent it, as leverage for a better deal? Not even Memphis’s? They couldn’t take back even a BIT of salary if it meant getting some assets, like young players or draft picks? You mean to tell me that a team heading in no particular direction and capped out can afford to give away its best players for absolutely no return whatsoever? How can any team out there justify spending $23 million on a fourth choice power forward while already nursing one of the league’s highest payrolls, paying $60 unnecessary million to a guy who played three minutes the season before, as well as giving Chucky Atkins $13 million to do scant little, can now somehow justify giving away its first-round draft picks and frittering away quality players like confetti?

This from a team that made the ultimate let’s-give-itt-a-shot trade only 18 months ago?

Something seems systematically wrong. Either Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke woke up with the arseache and ordered General Manager Mark Warkentein to do a dramatic about-face and cut payroll immediately at all costs, or Warkentein does not value Camby like I do. Or both.

Whichever it is, the Nuggets caused more problems than they solved. They’re still cap strapped, they’re still a lottery team, they still have no exciting internal future, and they’re still a misshapen veteran team that isn’t getting anywhere,¬†When teams make bad personal moves to save money, purely as collateral damage from their own previous stupid move, then the fans become the victims to the folly that is the NBA and its old boys network.

However, I’m going to try and think positively. The sole solace for the Nuggets in this deal is the $10 million traded player exception that this deal created. This is only of use if it is used, and, given the above about their payroll even after this deal, it will probably go unused. However, if the Nuggets let Allen Iverson expire this summer, they will finally (barring widespread changes) be out from the tax territory in which they currently reside. If that happens, they will still have the TPE to use until July 15th, 2009. And at that point, they’ll be able to add salary again. Whether they do this or not is another matter, but the ability to do so remains. And that’s a small solace that Nuggets can take away and keep.

Who knows, they might even use it to bring Camby back.

By the way, while we’re sort of on the subject of the Clippers and Elton Brand, let us tangent for a minute as you explain something to me. As I understand it, the time line of events in their negotiations go like this;

1 – Brand opts out.

2 – The Clippers and Brand verbally agree to a new deal rather quickly.

3 – The Warriors top this offer, just to see if they get lucky. The Sixers follow suit.

4 – Brand and his agent David Falk take news of this new offer to the Clippers, looking to use it as leverage with the Clippers to make them increase their offer slightly.

5 – The Clippers say no.

Now, why would the Clippers do this? By all accounts, they had a verbal agreement for a very reason 5 year, $65 million offer. Why would they be so inflexible in renegotiating that slightly? $13 million is a good price for Elton Brand – if you’re overpaying him at the end of the deal, you’re underpaying him at the start, so it works out. Why wouldn’t you add a few million if it kept him here? Why wouldn’t you discuss a sixth year? Why would you extend qualifying offers to Marcus Williams and Nick Fazekas, keep the unguaranteed Josh Powell around unnecessarily, and even more unnecessarily sign first-round draft pick Eric Gordon before completing your cap space adventure, needlessly costing yourself almost $1.5 million in cap room, a figure which could add over $10 million to the value of a five-year contract? A $10 million that would have meant the re-signing of your best player, and a hell of a good starting five to build upon?

Maybe they didn’t know signing Gordon would cost them cap space. Or maybe they think Fazekas is vital in some way. I couldn’t say. But I think the Clippers, in doing this, nearly managed to one-up The Juan Carlos Navarro Experience of this past season.

Posted by at 9:01 PM