The Rockets, according to sources, are more interested in a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks. Sources told ESPN.com that the Knicks have had discussions with the Rockets about Camby, as well as the Dallas Mavericks about a sign-and-trade for free agent Jason Kidd, who agreed to join the Knicks earlier this week.
The Knicks are hoping to make a sign-and-trade deal for one of them and use their $3.09 million mid-level exception to sign the other.
By signing Tyson Chandler last season, the Knicks added their most formidable and intimidating big man since Camby. Ironically enough, ten years after his first tenure in New York came to a close, it appears likely the 38 year old Camby could return for a second tour of duty.
Bringing Camby into the fold to spell Chandler would insure that the Knicks have essentially have a defensive wall on the hardwood at all times. With Chandler winning the 'Defensive Player of the Year' award this season, and Mike Woodson now the official full-time head coach, it's safe to say New York will become a team that prides itself on its defensive prowess even more so. The Knicks hovered around a top-10 ranking in defensive efficiency all season long.
And that's exactly what Camby is all about---defensive intimidation. Even in his old age, Camby still stands tall as one of the league's more physical players and efficient rebounders. He averaged 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 23 minutes per game through 59 contest last season. Coming off the bench could actually enhance his impact by keeping him fresh and ready to be unleashed for those key and clutch moments.
However, Camby realizes his still present abilities and because of that, may be more motivated to sign with a team that has a starting role to offer. Such a role is probably present in Miami, but it's also possible he would have to split a decent amount of playing time with solid players like Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony anyway. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, there's a good chance Camby would be playing similar minutes regardless of which team he signs with.
With the minutes concern settled, all other signs should point to the big man possibly selecting New York as his last likely NBA destination. As Zwerling notes, Camby stands to make more money as a Knick. The Rockets have made it clear amid the increasing unlikelihood that players like Camby and Courtney Lee re-sign that they are definitely willing to work out sign & trades with other teams in order to get something of value back in return.
Houston being more willing to deal with the Knicks essentially leaves the Heat with only the veteran's minimum contract to offer.
If solid minutes, a more lucrative contract, and the opportunity to make an impact on a winning team aren't enough by themselves to lure Camby back to the Big Apple, it doesn't hurt that he has friends in the Knicks' front office. Not only did current G.M. Glen Grunwald draft Camby as a rookie while running the Raptors, but the former Knick's old teammate and good friend Allan Houston is currently the Assistant G.M. as well.
The big man also spent quality time with Carmelo Anthony as teammates from 2003-2008 on the Denver Nuggets.
Surely Camby remembers the great times he had while donning orange and blue as well. In addition to presiding as the Knicks' defensive anchor during their run to the NBA Finals in 1999, the big man has remained a well-respected fan-favorite ever since. Despite not having played for the team since 2002, Camby actually also kept his New York home all the way until the fall of 2010, when he sold it to Yankees baseball great Bernie Williams.
As both Camby and Williams know, once you help a New York sports team accomplish something great, the city usually immortalizes you as athletic royalty. Thus, should Camby come back, the fans would rejoice---not only with fond memories of the past, but perhaps even better hopes for the future.