Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Camby is Gone! Now What?
(Boulder-CO) My day has been dominated with different media types and fellow fans alike calling me to try and make sense of this Marcus Camby trade to the Clippers in what appears on the surface to be one of the worst moves in the Nuggets' most recent history. And believe me, I've heard it all from those who are ready to cash in their season tickets and give up on this franchise to those who are actually happy that the Nuggets made the move they did. Furthermore, both sides present valid points when breaking this trade down, but for those of you who haven't had the chance to take a real comprehensive look at this maneuver you've come to the right place.
Salary: Obviously, we all knew the Nuggets would make an attempt to cut their salary down going into this season after last year's salary cap bulging payroll. By sending Marcus to L.A. for a possible second round pick in next year's draft the Nuggets do just that. Immediately, that money can be used to lock up the futures of J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, and/or anyone else management may have on their radar. The only remaining question when understanding this angle of the trade is why the Nuggets didn't do the exact same thing with Kenyon Martin? K-Mart makes more money and as long as the Nuggets were going to practically give someone away it would have made more sense to me to dump the under productive Martin before Camby. But, then again, maybe the other end of the deal wanted nothing at all to do with Martin...
The Trade Exception: The Nuggets are currently sitting on a $10 million dollar trade exception that could be used to pick up part of the tab on a future maneuver. As of right now, it's senseless to send Camby’s salary to the coast only to bring in more salary this season with the trade exception. The reasoning behind this is two fold: First because using it now will cost them $20 million once the luxury tax is accounted for, and secondly by holding onto the exception until next summer's draft affords the Nuggets the luxury of waiting to see who else may become available in the meantime.
Immediate Future: No one is sure as of right now what the Nuggets' high priced think tank is actually scheming. For all we know, Denver brass (a group that is not afraid to make big moves) has only executed phase one in a set of many to turn the corner and produce a championship caliber product. The Nuggets are a franchise that, in my opinion, is a piece or two away from being right there in the thick of the championship contending pack. The bottom line is they still have the most potent offensive duo in the league, two of five of the most promising young talents from the 2004 and 2005 drafts, and a huge question mark to be answered by Nene. If management is correctly betting on those three aspects to pay off, and they do, this seemingly bizarre trade certainly becomes more comprehensible.
Age and Durability: Marcus Camby turns 35 after the All-Star recess next season and the historically injury prone Captain just played back-to-back 70+ game campaigns. Is that to say Marcus is due to go down for an extended stay at the inactive hotel? Let's hope not, but history has a funny way of repeating itself and brass would look genius if in fact he does vacation at said resort in L.A. and leaves the recently injury-decimated Clippers right back at square one.
With those four points in mind, (and hopefully Nene is locked away in a rubber room on a high protein diet somewhere) I think the Nuggets may have made the correct move with Camby. Sure, a first round pick would have been better, but with only the Grizzlies and Clippers under the salary cap and willing to take on a player and situation like Camby's it's at least a push.
Keeping him and putting essentially the same team back on the floor next season wouldn't have been any better. Furthermore, the knee jerk reaction is that it would appear the 2008-09 Nuggets may give the NBA's All-Time points allowed per game for a season a run for it's money, but the one thing we did know was how bad this team was defensively with Camby. Maybe shuffling the deck, and the return of a healthy Nene, will make a big difference in the Nuggets' overall defensive abilities. Because when you critically analyze Camby's defensive style the only thing the Nuggets will surely miss in the absence of Marcus is shot blocking. He was a mediocre at best one-on-one post defender and rebounds are almost sure to be grabbed by whoever else is in the position to hit the boards.
With all that being said, don't bail out on those season tickets and NBA League Passes yet! My gut feeling is the Nuggets wouldn't have extended AI's contract for another $21 million dollars to put a team that floats around .500 on the Pepsi Center hardwood next year. If that was the case and rebuilding was the goal. The Nuggets would have given AI his walking papers. Meaning... there has to be something else going on behind the scenes...