The New York Knicks are closely monitoring the Carmelo Anthony situation, waiting for the right time (if it ever comes) to pounce.
However, there’s also a chance that Anthony may elude them, should he be traded to a team like the Nets. Though the Knicks hold hope they can look into signing him outright this summer, Anthony is reportedly now open to signing an extension with the Nets for the long haul.
If Anthony does in fact end up with the Nets, the Knicks will be moving quickly, looking at other ways to use the cap room Eddy Curry’s expiring contract will grant them next season.
As the Knicks continue their quest to back to greatness, Donnie Walsh’s plan “B” to Anthony may very well be someone who was present during the team’s last heyday: Marcus Camby.
Camby helped lead the way as the Knicks propelled themselves to the NBA Finals as the 1999 Eastern Conference champs, only to lose to the Spurs. Then a much younger player, he has become one of the NBA’s best defensive big men over the last 10 plus years.
The Knicks will get an even closer look at the older, wiser, but almost just as effective Camby (as though they don’t know what he has to offer already) as they take on his current team, the Blazers, Tuesday night in Portland.
Although Camby, the one-time NBA “Defensive Player of the Year,” has seen a small decrease in minutes this season (he averages just under 29 minutes per game), that hasn’t stopped him from making his presence felt on the court. Still a just as intimidating force on defense, Camby is averaging 11.4 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and one steal per game. Not bad for a 36-year-old big man.
As the Knicks visit Camby and the Blazers, they will be reminded of what the franchise once had, but yet now, again desperately needs. Besides his outstanding defense, Camby also brings a certain mental toughness and an obvious wealth of experience. While the Knicks’ defense may be improved this season, they are still lacking that same toughness down low as they are often forced to play “small ball,” filling up the post with quicker but smaller players.
Acquiring a player that boasts Camby’s credentials would take the pressure off star Amar’e Stoudemire to play a more physical game. Though Stoudemire blocks shots and plays effectively within the means of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, the Knicks are still sorely missing that bruiser at the center position.
While Camby is certainly not the superstar that his former Nuggets teammate Carmelo Anthony is, he would fit seamlessly into and suffice Walsh’s concept of surrounding the Knicks’ sole star with the perfect complementary players. Camby is still able to provide a team with everything the Knicks are still lacking, so it would be a smart move to acquire him at some point (given that acquiring Anthony becomes no longer an option).
Even so, for those concerned with how Anthony may alter this current Knicks squad, perhaps Camby may be the better option. He is the ultimate team player, and has already proven he can handle the pressures of playing in New York.
Though Camby is not particularly a fan of changing scenery, he has obviously the city his home before. In fact, although he hasn’t donned orange and blue since 2002, Camby only just recently sold his New York residence to Yankees great Bernie Williams this past fall.
If the Knicks are lucky, Camby may still have a soft spot for NYC. If a play is going to be made for him, however, it needs to be done by the February trading deadline, as he will not be a free agent this coming summer.
Having already signed a rich contract that runs through next season, Camby is a prime candidate to be swapped for Curry’s expiring deal if the Knicks and Blazers can agree upon a deal.
While teams like Heat, Lakers, and Celtics are proving that pairing up stars will work wonders for success, Donnie Walsh can also set out to prove (by going back to basics) that a well oiled machine can also run efficiently by building up a strong team with excellent role players.
If that is in fact, what Walsh and the Knicks believe, Marcus Camby may be their missing part.