The Houston Rockets are facing an offseason of uncertainty after barely missing the playoffs once again. One of these questions is who to maintain at the center position: Samuel Dalembert or Marcus Camby?
The Rockets must make the right choice and keep the elder Camby.
The Rockets, once considered a lock for a playoff bid, experienced a meltdown of epic proportions.
With only a few weeks left in the season, Houston was the favorite to become the sixth seed in their grueling conference's playoffs. This was quite a surprise and accomplishment, as many expected the roster to struggle due to the lack of a clear star and playoff experience.
But despite not succumbing to the challenge at the beginning of the truncated season, the Rockets went on a 1-7 slide, officially knocking them out of postseason contention.
While their relevancy in the playoff chase did shock the NBA community, there is no denying the unfortunate fact that changes within the organization are a necessity.
However, major alterations are not needed for this franchise due to their roster being already laden with talent and depth. Unlike the Charlotte Bobcats or Washington Wizards, the Rockets have a playoff-ready squad that has the potential to strike fear in the eyes of opposing teams. But a decision they must confront is who they want to man the center position.
Currently, the job is between two big men: the aforementioned Camby and Dalembert. Both have fantastic qualities. However, Camby is the better selection.
First and foremost, Camby's contract would most likely be financially kinder to the Rockets. The former UMass star, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, would probably accept anywhere from the veteran's minimum to the mid-level exception. Not bad considering he almost made $10 million last season.
In addition, due to his advanced age, 38, the former Defensive Player of the Year Award winner will not be searching for a long-term contract.
Samuel Dalembert, on the other hand, is only 31 and will be looking for his last big payday. While he is essentially under contract for next season, as he is set to make nearly $7 million, it isn't fully guaranteed by the team. In other words, the organization can decide to drop him.
Secondly, Camby had a much more productive season than the younger Dalembert. Even though Dalembert was considered the starting center for much of the year, the former 76er had a rough condensed regular season. He had his lowest rebounding average, 7.0, since his rookie season and was hampered by a back injury.
In addition, his play caused the Rockets to acquire another center to replace him as the starter in the middle.
Current starting center Marcus Camby, a midseason acquisition from the Portland Trail Blazers, has rejuvenated his career since coming to Houston. His seven points and nine boards per contest average is the perfect testament.
His advanced age does raise a few questions, but his contributions this season show he still has fuel left in the tank.
Additionally, Camby has even stated that he would love to re-sign with the organization.
“I would like to be here (Houston), but I understand the NBA is a business,” the center said. “A lot of suitors are going to be trying to reach out. This is where I want to be. So hopefully, we can make something work.”
If the Rockets want to make one final push with their current core to reach the elusive playoff berth, Houston must decide to keep Camby over Dalembert. Financially and statistically speaking, the elder statesman Camby is the right choice.