Two weeks ago SI.com reported the Los Angeles Clippers had offered the New York Knicks a deal--rumored to be a second round draft pick--in exchange for power forward Zach Randolph with hopes of filling the position left vacant by Elton Brand's departure. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh reportedly turned the deal down.
Four days later the Clippers turned around and apparently offered the same deal to the Denver Nuggets for center Marcus Camby. The Nuggets, intent on clearing cap space for the free agent class of 2010, pulled the trigger, in the process freeing themselves of the $15.6 million obligation that is the former Defensive Player of the Year's contract.
The fact the Clippers set out looking for a low-post scorer (Randolph) and then changed the music to pursue a defensive rebounder (Camby) leads me to believe they're still knee-deep in talks with the Knicks and that Camby might soon be packing his bags for New York. A second round pick straight up for Randolph couldn't cut it, but what if Walsh were offered, say, Camby and Cuttino Mobley for Randolph and Jamal Crawford?
They must be talking about it. The deal just makes way too much sense on every level.
Never mind the rumors Camby is unhappy in L.A. and wants out--that's just the tip of the iceberg--the Clippers have yet to address their needs. Their best and only inside scorer is Chris Kaman, and at the two-guard spot Cuttino Mobley and rookie Eric Gordon are set to battle for starter's minutes. These are two weak areas in which the Clippers undoubtedly want to add some dynamics. Randolph and Crawford are ideal.
Randolph would immediately become the Clippers' go-to guy in the post, which would allow Kaman--who's more of an opportunistic scorer anyhow--to play his natural center spot and be an afterthought terror from the weak side. Crawford would serve as a huge upgrade over Mobley as far as creativity in the half court is concerned. He can play both guard spots, play-make and get his shot off whenever he wants. Partnered with Baron Davis, they'd form a wildly-electric and entertaining backcourt. The Clippers, the second-worst scoring team in the league last season, would immediately turn into one of the top scoring teams.
On the Knicks' end, getting Camby would fill a huge need for a defensive presence in the middle who can rebound. Furthermore, Camby can run the floor which is exactly what coach Mike D'Antoni's "eight seconds or less" offensive system calls for. In addition, having played for the Knicks when they reached the NBA Finals in 1999, he proved he has what it takes to star in New York. He'd love to be back; the fans would love to have him back.
Mobley is a better fit for D'Antoni's system than Crawford. He shoots much better--he's one of the better 3-point shooters in the league--doesn't need to dominate the ball to get his shots, plays tough defense and provides much-needed locker room leadership.
The Knicks would free up approximately $34 million in the move. Camby has two years left, and is scheduled to make $8 million next season--an absolute bargain considering Tyson Chandler is making $11 million per. Mobley has two years left at $9 million apiece.
Crawford is scheduled to make $8.6 million next year and then can become a free agent. Randolph is owed $48 million over the next three, but given his age (27), the market rate for a skilled power forward--Brand just signed a five-year $82 million deal with the Sixers--and the fact the Clippers have financial flexibility and were willing to take on Randolph's contract for nothing, this is an investment apparently worth making.
The Clippers would start Kaman, Randolph, Thornton, Crawford and Davis. The Knicks would go with Camby, Lee, Richardson, Mobley and Duhon (I anticipate another move or two). The Clippers would push for the playoffs immediately. The Knicks, for the first time in years, would be in a position to have tremendous financial flexibility as early as 2009.
Sounds like a done deal to me.