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Digging Deeper into the Marcus Camby Trade

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I did not even realize the Nuggets had traded Marcus Camby until after the MLB All-Star game ended last night.  I casually flipped to ESPN News and noticed a report on the ticker that simply stated the Nuggets had traded Camby to the Clippers.  It did not say anything about who or what they had acquired and it was only after I was able to get online that I saw what the trade actually entailed. 

By the time I finished my post last night it was 2:00 AM.  I was not able to include everything I wanted to say due to the fact I had to get up for work in five hours so here are some more thoughts on the Marcus Camby trade.

Quit ignoring the trade exception people!

The most common argument I am hearing and reading, even by people I expect to know better, is the Nuggets did not get anything for Camby.  I do not know why people do not get it, but a $10.1 million trade exception is a big deal. 

For some reason many Denver fans seem to be fixated on Kirk Hinrich.  Why didn’t the Nuggets trade Camby for Kirk Hinrich?  First of all, I am not a big fan of point guards who cannot shoot or get to the rim so I find the Hinrich talk annoying.  Secondly, the Nuggets could trade for Hinrich right now with their trade exception and not have to give up anything.  That is how powerful a trade exception is.  All the people who are ragging on the Nuggets today for not getting anything for Camby will probably be ragging on another team at some point in the next year for giving up a player to the Nuggets for nothing.  A trade exception is a delayed gratification acquisition.  I can understand the disappointment in losing a quality player, but it was not for nothing.

Sure some teams let trade exceptions expire without using them.  Golden State just let a $10 million exception of their own expire at the end of June.  I would be shocked if the Nuggets did not put this exception to good use.  Likewise, I would also be shocked if they used it before the 2009 NBA Draft.  It would not make any sense to dump Camby’s salary and then turn around and bring in more salary this season with the trade exception.

Next offseason Iverson’s monster deal will either be off the books or he will be signed to a lower salary and they will be in a position to use the exception.  If they let it expire then we can all be outraged, but until we see what they bring in, this trade cannot be dismissed as a stupid move by a stupid front office.

The Nuggets are giving up on next season!

Yes, the Nuggets appear to have thrown in the towel for the 2008-2009 season, but they were not going anywhere anyway.  Keeping this team together would have been throwing in the towel too.  It is unlikely Camby and AI can stay as healthy next year as they did last year.  With the improvement of Portland there was a chance this team would miss the playoffs as constructed.  

 

I cannot believe they traded their draft pick!

Another grievance I am hearing is why did the Nuggets trade their draft pick in the 2008 NBA draft to bring in a big man to replace Camby.  The answer to that is they did not know they would be without Camby.  In response to losing Brand, which did not happen until a week into July, the Clippers let it be known that they would take a player’s salary off a team’s hands with their cap space.  The Nuggets had no idea that option would have been available before the draft.  They may have known that they were going to trade Camby, but they could not have known that they could do a straight salary dump as they did.  They planned on bringing a player or two back in return for Marcus so while I wish they would have kept their draft pick, it is not fair to claim they wasted a chance to replace Camby through the draft.

Camby was a good guy

Off the court this is a difficult deal to swallow.  With all of the off the court issues the Nuggets have had Marcus Camby always kept his nose clean.  He was a very charitable individual and the community will miss him.

Clipper fans are loving this trade now, but…

Clippers fans are pumped up about this deal, but I think they will be singing a different tune in the coming months.  Because the Clippers have Chris Kaman they do not need another offensive post player and they should be one of the best rebounding teams in the league.  Mike Dunleavy actually said that Camby was a better fit than Elton Brand.  I can only hope he was just being childish and trying to goose Brand with that line. 

In my opinion the Clippers would have been better off acquiring Kenyon Martin instead of Marcus Camby.  Martin is a true power forward who will be able to step out and guard power forwards, rebound and is a better offensive player than Camby.  Martin would have been a closer fit to what they lost in Brand.  Now that Camby is going to be defending power forwards he is going to have to step out on the perimeter defensively every night and Nugget fans know Camby and perimeter defense mix like oil and water.  Nene would have been a much better fit than Camby as well.  Of course, even with Camby’s advanced age (in basketball terms) he appears to be less of an injury risk than either Kenyon or Nene so I can see why the Clippers chose him.

What does this mean for George Karl?

George Karl is clearly not pleased with the trade and it will be interesting if he still wants to coach this team next season.  It is entirely possible he will resign.  Most likely he will stay onboard instead of walking away from a big payday of his own.  I expect to see Karl either sitting in his seat or leaning against the scorer's table on the Nuggets sideline again next season, but if he taps out I would not be surprised.

Denver is in big time trouble at the power forward and center spots!

The Nuggets are certainly much thinner in the front court.  Kenyon and Nene inspire little confidence to most fans as far as their ability to stay healthy, though I have gone on record to say I believe Kenyon will be able to stay healthy over the near future, although it is certainly possible that they will each play in 70 plus games next season.  With the departure of Najera and now Camby injures to one or both of those two would put the Nuggets behind the eight ball. 

I believe Steven Hunter will get to play some big minutes next season and I also think Nugget fans will be pleasantly surprised with his play.  He does not have the shot blocking and rebounding instincts that Camby does, but he is stronger and knows that he should hang around the rim on offense and he will step out and challenge the ball handler on pick and rolls.

I believe you can also look for the Nuggets to sign Elton Brown from the summer league team to play with them this season.  He is a big bruiser who can score on the block, defend and rebound.  I will be shocked, and disappointed, if they let him go.

J.R. Smith, get ready to start cashing some big checks

The real winner in this deal is J.R. Smith.  The Nuggets have now let two key players walk so that they can make sure they resign him.  I listed resigning Smith as my top offseason priority and I was prepared to see guys leave in order to make sure they could afford to hang onto J.R.  Now they need to be careful not to give him too big of a contract in the classic bidding against themselves pitfall so many teams fall into.

This trade may have been a good decision, but I still do not trust these guys

I do feel a sense of optimism for the future of this team, but honestly, I am concerned about the ability of the Nuggets management to put together a championship caliber organization.  Mark Warkentein has yet to prove that he can do it and my optimism is tempered due to the fact that I lack faith in the current management.  They could completely screw this up and use the trade exception to trade for Kenny Thomas or someone equally silly, but for now we need to be content to know that they realized the team structure needed to be altered and took action to do so.

Only time will tell and if there is one thing that is difficult for sports fans to do it is wait.

Hopefully the wait will be worth it.