Although Marcus Camby expressed interest in returning to the Big Apple as a free agent this summer, he is no longer an option. Camby, currently enjoying a playoff stint with the Blazers, came to an agreement on a contract extension with the team this week.
Donnie Walsh was fully prepared to offer Camby a chance to be the defensive anchor next season with the Knicks. As one of the league’s best defenders and rebounders, Camby would have been perfect, providing the Knicks with skills it severely lacked this season.
Camby’s pass on the Knicks could ultimately end up being the first of many free agent letdowns this summer. The Knicks will shoot for the stars, quite literally, pursuing the likes of LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Walsh’s ability to move on to “Plan B” may very well define the Knicks’ offseason.
The Bulls’ Brad Miller has immediately been linked to the Knicks since Camby’s extension agreement was announced.
Walsh acquired Miller while he ran the Pacers, helping Miller become an all-star in 2002-03, his first full year with the team.
Miller, however, is a completely different player than Camby. His play has also declined considerably since his all-star days with Indiana.
It’s undeniable that the Knicks need a big man. That being said, a tough defensive presence (in that big man) is needed even more.
Miller, like Camby, is a gifted passer and has averaged 7.5 rebounds during his career. The negative connotation to Miller is that he is aging and is in no way known for his defense. His ability to catch and shoot the midrange jumper may make him a fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but whether he can provide the Knicks with something they do not already have is an open question.
Brendan Haywood, another upcoming free agent, is known more for his defense than anything else. Although he may be more of what the Knicks need, he could be playing his way out of the Knicks budget as he helps the Mavericks in the playoffs.
That would leave the door open for Miller.
More things seems to be in Miller’s favor than not. At seven feet talll, he would immediately be the tallest Knick; he’s a Walsh favorite who could potentially play well in the D’Antoni offense; and above all else, he would likely come at a cheap rate. If the Knicks hope to sign two free agents at maximum contracts, Miller could be the most appealing choice.
While I wouldn’t mind Miller becoming a Knick, hopefully by July 1, a few more talented free agents will leapfrog Miller on the list of most likely to sign.
The trick would be pairing Miller up with the right big man partner. If the Knicks sacrifice a bit of rebounding and take on a defensive liability in Miller, they will need to sign another big man who has serious defensive skills.
I’m thinking Miller would be a nice complement to Chris Bosh, if the Knicks were able to sign him first.
At this point, the possibility of the Knicks signing a major star cannot be counted on.
That being said, I would now characterize Brad Miller as, by default, the most likely free agent to sign with the Knicks.
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