New York Knicks: Was the Marcus Camby Trade from the Rockets Too Costly?

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

A lot has changed since 2001, but Marcus Camby is a New York Knick once again.
A lot has changed since 2001, but Marcus Camby is a New York Knick once again.Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the New York Knicks completed a sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets to acquire 6'11" center and former Knick Marcus Camby.

Camby, 38, will provide the Knicks with a potent presence in the paint, partnering with starting center and last season's Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.

As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks will send Houston:

  • Pariah guard Toney Douglas
  • Second-year forward Josh Harrellson
  • Center Jerome Jordan
  • Cash to pay Douglas' salary (after the Knicks picked up a team option on Douglas just prior to the start of "Linsanity")
  • Second-round picks in 2014 and 2015

On the face of it, surrendering three expiring contracts and two second-round selections isn't exactly a king's ransom, especially to acquire a proven defender and rebounder in a league with a shortage of big men.

But Camby is 38 years old, and the Knicks just keep on handing out their draft picks to other teams like they're Monopoly money.

Camby received a three-year, $13.2 million contract for his services. In 2011-12, over 59 games (53 starts) with Portland and Houston, Camby averaged just 4.9 points and 1.4 blocks to go with a robust 9.0 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game.

Camby had been pursued by numerous teams, including the Miami Heat, but opted to return to New York in the end. Although the Heat could not offer him as much money as the Knicks, Camby stated that his decision to return to New York hinged on Knicks pride (h/t Ian Begley of ESPN New York):

Camby said in an interview Tuesday with the internet radio show Hard2Guard:

"To be honest, I always prided myself on being a Knick. I remember all of those rivalries and heated skirmishes (with the Heat) we had back in the day so I couldn't see myself being a part of that team, especially coming back here...into the Garden. I didn't want to be a villain. So this is a great situation for me."

While the acquisition of Camby certainly makes the Knicks a better team for this season, in addition to signing point guard Jason Kidd, they now have two players in the rotation who will turn 40 during their new contracts, and both will make over $3 million per year.

The Knicks were more than happy to jettison Toney Douglas, who they seemed completely unwilling to give any minutes to whatsoever. Even after Jeremy Lin went down with injury and Baron Davis battled numerous injuries himself, they allowed the underwhelming and rusty Mike Bibby to handle the lion's share of duties at the point instead of Douglas.

Jerome Jordan was considered a project and has already been waived by Houston (per MSG's own Alan Hahn).

But, letting Josh Harrellson go was a difficult decision the Knicks were forced to make. The 6'10" forward showed promise in limited minutes last season, averaging 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game. Camby is an upgrade from Harrellson, but he is also 15 years his senior.

Knicks analyst Alan Hahn tweeted this about Harrellson's departure:

Tough to give up Harrellson in Camby deal but Toney was a given. Bonus: Gadzuric is still in play, allows Knicks to target a $2M player.

— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) July 10, 2012


Harrellson's development was something the Knicks decided not to wait on, instead opting for the established ability of Camby in the present. Dan Gadzuric was included several days later in the exchange for point guard Raymond Felton, along with the Knicks' backup interior defender from 2011-12, Jared Jeffries.

The Knicks also surrendered more draft picks to Houston (2014 and 2015 second-rounders), which they always seem to have a dearth of. And they shipped off their 2016 second-round selection to Portland in the Felton deal, though they did re-acquire another familiar face in 6'9" forward Kurt Thomas.

After wisely selecting rookie sensation Iman Shumpert in first round in 2011, the Knicks had no first-round pick this year in an especially deep draft. That selection was traded away back in 2010 to Houston for Tracy McGrady as part of the sweepstakes to lure LeBron James.

They used their second-round choice this year on Kostas Papanikolaou, a forward under contract to Greek team Olympiakos. Papanikolaou has already been traded away to Portland in exchange for Felton.

Washington controls the Knicks' 2013 second-round pick as part of the Tyson Chandler signing, while the other 2013 second-round pick (which the Knicks' originally got from Golden State for David Lee) was traded to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. Denver also got the Knicks' 2014 first-round selection in that deal, as well as the right to swap first-round picks in 2016.

That leaves the 2013 and 2015 first-round picks as the Knicks' only remaining draft picks until 2016 (they have the rights to Sacramento's 2014 second-round selection, but it's top-55 protected). Since the contract of virtually every player on the current roster is set to expire in 2015, I suppose that's good timing.

All in all, the Knicks appear to be mortgaging their future in order to gamble on success in the present. That is an especially risky proposition given the emerging dynasty in Miami, the drastically improved franchise in Brooklyn and the solid teams in Boston and Indiana.

And that's just in the Eastern Conference.

But you have to hand it to Glen Grunwald. He bested Pat Riley by nabbing Marcus Camby, just like he trumped Mark Cuban and Jay-Z when he landed Jason Kidd. Both players may already be receiving AARP literature, but they are leaders who have proven their talent in the NBA since the Clinton administration.

With an aging roster and a paltry pile of draft picks, it's safe to say the Knicks are in win-now mode.

All they have to do now is win.

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