Marcus Camby Proves You Can Go Home Again

Knicks sign Camby and bring back the Steve Novak/J.R. Smith combo

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012  |  Updated 7:52 AM EDT
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Marcus Camby's first tenure as a member of the Knicks was an eventful one.

He was acquired from Toronto in a trade for Charles Oakley before the lockout-shortened 1999 season, had a mediocre regular season and then dominated the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals to push the Knicks all the way to the NBA Finals as an eighth seed.

He was an integral part of the rotation when he wasn't hurt, but the two most memorable things he did were punch Jeff Van Gundy (Camby was aiming for Danny Ferry) and miss a playoff game in 2001 when his mother and sisters were held hostage.

Camby was dealt away, along with the first-round pick that turned into Nene, for Antonio McDyess in 2002, one of many deals you can point to as part of the degradation of the Knicks as McDyess blew out his knee and missed the entire season. Camby has bounded from place to place since leaving New York, using his rebounding and shotblocking ability to always find a job in the league.

He'll be expected to use those two skills as the backup to Tyson Chandler, a job that became Camby's when he agreed to an offer from the Knicks and the Rockets agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to send him here. The Knicks will be giving up Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan, Josh "Jorts" Harrellson and a couple of second-round picks to bring Camby back to town on a three-year deal.

Camby's arrival should allow the Knicks to continue the defensive renaissance that started under Mike Woodson last season. Rebounding was a particular problem for the Knicks last season and Camby led the league in rebounding percentage last season, so that seems like a good thing. 

It does seem like a hefty trade price to pay for a 39-year-old forward. Not in terms of talent as Jorts was the only guy who helped the team even a little last season, but in terms of assets for other deals as the Knicks now have only Dan Gadzuric's contract to use to find a wing player that they'll need to fill the spot vacated by Landry Fields in the rotation.

This is the same league where the Nets might be on the verge of trading a promising guard in MarShon Brooks, two guys with good numbers on awful teams (Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez), a clutch of low first-round draft picks and a bunch of trash for the best center in the league when the team with said best center is only getting one of the players listed above.

If that gets you Dwight Howard, Camby should come for bus fare and a bowl of lukewarm soup.

Camby helps the team, so the price isn't really the most significant worry for a team that already accepted its place in cap hell over the next few years. The worry comes from the fact that the Knicks now have two of the three oldest players in the league filling essential roles on the bench and players that old can be a little brittle.

The Knicks were busy outside of Camby 2.0 as well, locking up Steve Novak and J.R. Smith for another season of a partnership that needs to be captured in sitcom form sometime really soon. Novak's deal is for four years, which shows you how well that lockout worked for giving power back to ownership, while Smith will be here for two more years or 50,000 shots, whichever comes first.

There's still a need for a wing player who can defend, but we've now got a pretty good idea of what the Knicks roster is going to look like next season. The team addressed two areas of need with Camby and Jason Kidd, but not much has changed about the keys to improvement next season.

Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin are going to need to find a way to work together offensively so that all talents are maximized instead of the disjointed mess we saw for almost all of last season. Camby and Kidd can enhance that growth, but they can't be the impetus for it.

London 2012 is right around the corner. Get the top Olympic news, including what to watch, results and features on our local athletes at NBC's Olympic Zone.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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