New York Knicks: Why It's Too Soon to Write Off Marcus Camby

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New York Knicks: Why It's Too Soon to Write Off Marcus Camby
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The 2012 NBA offseason was one to remember for the New York Knicks. Of the 20 members currently on their preseason roster, 14 are fresh faces who were acquired this past Summer.

Of those 14, at least five are locks to make the roster. A grand total of nine are likely to make the final cut as the Knicks cut down to the 15-player maximum for the regular season.

Out of those recent acquisitions, five players are over the age of 35. That includes Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, Pablo Prigioni and Marcus Camby.

Unfortunately, Camby's 2012-13 campaign has been placed on a temporary hold.

Per a report via Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, the 38-year-old big man has been sidelined with a strained calf muscle. As a result, the New York media has begun the inevitable process of ripping apart the oldest roster in the NBA.

Just don't get caught up in the frenzy. It is far too soon to write off Marcus Camby.

Prior to defending Camby, we must acknowledge what is fact. The Knicks grossly overpaid for the 38-year-old veteran when they handed him a $13.2 million deal over three years.

As Lawrence alludes to in his report, even Camby was surprised by the deal he received.

Perhaps because of his history of injuries and long career, Camby privately told teammates when he arrived for training camp that he was surprised he received a three-year deal worth $13.1 million. While he is scheduled to receive $9.2 million guaranteed for his first two seasons, the third year is not guaranteed and the Knicks could wind up paying him less if he continues to break down. If the Knicks want to get rid of him before his third season, they would owe him only a $1 million buyout. If he sticks, then they would end up paying him all of his $3.9 million for year three.

I suppose every story has its silver lining.

The cause for commotion is not about the player that Camby is. During the 2011-12 regular season, Camby proved capable of performing at a high level when he averaged 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 22.4 minutes per game.

He finished the year with the highest rebound per 48 minute rate in the league at 18.8.  Unfortunately, he also missed 26 appearances, which is where the cause for concern begins.

With news of Marcus Camby's calf injury, is he a bust?

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The 16-year veteran has missed at least 20 games in two of the past three seasons. This is all too familiar to Knicks fans, as his previous stint with the team saw him absent from 131 games in just four years.

This fresh start has quite the stale taste to it.

To evaluate Camby's situation with the Knicks, however, we cannot place a label of "bust" upon him already. Although he is overpaid, Camby is of great value to the Knicks' rotation.

Unlike a year ago, the team now has an elite interior defender to run the interior while Tyson Chandler rests.

More importantly, they have a player whom they can rely on to handle the boards and alter shots. With all due respect to Amar'e Stoudemire and Josh Harrellson, the Knicks lacked such a player beyond Chandler in 2012.

Furthermore, Camby is not being brought in to play 30 minutes a night. In fact, he's not even in New York to make nightly appearances.

Instead, Marcus Camby was signed with the intention of strengthening a frontline and providing quality minutes in the place of injured or resting starters. As long as he's healthy by the time the playoffs rolls around, he'll fill that role just as expected.

In fact, Camby may just teach a few of the young guys what it means to play postseason basketball. In 76 playoff games, Camby has posted career averages of 7.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

His most recent series came in 2011 when he averaged 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Portland Trail Blazers. The man still has it.

To draw a parallel between how the media is differentiating Marcus Camby from other players, let's write a few others off with him.

Dwyane Wade has a history of injuries and is currently nursing a surgically repaired knee. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bogut and Danny Granger are following suit as they have minor or major injuries to recover from.

Color them busts.

To be fair, Camby is 38 and has a shorter leash than the players previously listed. The fact of the matter is, he has been battling injuries and posting elite-level numbers for the entirety of his career.

If Marcus Camby is to suddenly going to stop doing so because he came to New York, maybe the Knicks are cursed after all.

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