The Price of Camby

About a month ago I took a look at Portland’s impending situation with Greg Oden becoming eligible for a contract extension this summer. Then, I said that the Blazers would be best served to lock him up to the five-year extension he’ll be asking for, at whatever discount you can get after another season-ending injury. Oden won’t be cheap, but he’s not going to get any cheaper while he’s healthy, and thus worth offering a contract.

The other question is what the Blazers are going to do about their backup center situation. Joel Przybilla re-tore he patellar tendon and is out by indefinitely. In this case, having gotten a couple medical opinions on the situation, indefinitely could mean next November (doubtful) or the summer of 2010. Joel has a player option to pick up this summer for $7.4 million and there is no reason he shouldn’t pick it up. Nobody else is going to pay him while he recovers from a major injury, so he’ll collect his money and rightfully so.

That leaves you with two centers going into next season you are uncertain about. If the Blazers are going to make a serious run at the playoffs that season, they are going to need some security in the middle to account for Przybilla’s fluid timeline and whatever nicks and bruises Oden picks up during the regular season. That security is Marcus Camby.

Camby’s contract is expiring this summer and he is making $9.1 million in the final year of the deal. The L.A. Clippers will have interest is bringing him back to California, the Denver Nuggets will have interest in ridding themselves of Johan Petro’s playing time, the New York Knicks have expressed interest, and then there’s a ton of other teams that will either have cap space or a mid-level exception to use on a rotation-completing veteran. Short story: Camby is going to be a valuable commodity.

My take on this is simple: it is very important to get Camby back. If I were on a sports talk television show, I would say “You ABSOLUTELY MUST keep Marcus Camby”, but I’m not so I won’t. It’s just strongly advisable that Kevin Pritchard (and not another GM) does what it takes — barring finding another backup big trough trade, draft or mid-level exception — to bring back old Long Arms McBlock.

We’ll talk about this like Paul Allen’s money is Monopoly money. If the owner opens his wallet, there should be no issue with even giving Camby a raise to $10 million if it means him staying. The price shouldn’t be the sticking point, only the length. A manageable deal like Andre Miller’s two years with a third non-guaranteed sounds about right. Anything more than that and you tip your hat to the team that gives a 35-year old Camby what he wants.

This is all fairly obvious — and long winded — but still worth pointing out. What would be good value for you to keep Camby with Portland and keep him away from other Western Conference playoff teams?

Tags: Free Agency Greg Oden Joel Przybilla Marcus Camby Nba Basketball Portlan Trail Blazers

  • Blazersedge Ben

    great topic, great thoughts.

    when the trade was first completed i was firmly of the opinion a 2 year deal like you’re describing was too long of a commitment. having seen camby’s impact for awhile now, though, i think the blazers could go even higher than 20 over 2 with the idea that the large expiring contract is a solid trade chip if his contributions start to deteriorate with age. he’s got significant mileage left, certainly enough to carry him through next year comfortably. he’s also a really freaking smart player so you are getting some carryover value from his basketball brain too.

  • Coup

    I feel like we don’t talk about planning for expiring contracts in the future. Good wrinkle you pointed out.

  • Randall

    Unless he has love for playing in CA, Camby knows he’s in the right spot. And I’m sure Portland understands the importance of a top-flight center, regardless of Oden/Pryz’ status.

    If they can manage to escape the first round this year, I see Portland w/ a new starting center next year, and a serious chance at contention.

  • Gudmund

    Aren’t you the guy who wanted Ty Thomas instead of Camby? And now you want to resign him? Make up your freaking mind would ya?!!! Joking.

    Seriously though, given the question marks we have at the position. Bringing Camby back is a no-brainer. The good news is we have Bird Rights, correct? Which means we can offer more than anyone else. I would think offering slightly over the mid-level exception seems reasonable. 2 years with a team option on the third seems reasonable.

    It appears there is more in play here than just money, though. Camby is a family man, and has mentioned more than a few times that his wife and kids like LA and may not want to move. A long contract anywhere else might not be appealing to him. I think this team will have to win him over on more than just cash.

    The good news is that other conference foes aren’t likely to shell out big to get him either. Denver is already in the Luxury tax for next year with just 9 players under contract. Utah, Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix, and San Antonio all have similar money troubles: at or over the cap/tax for next year already, with too few players under contract. Those teams will be shedding salary, not adding. And for all their talk, I doubt the Clips make a run at Camby. They have enough space to make a max contract offer to someone, so I doubt they’ll blow their chance in order to sign a 35-year-old center.

    If they’re smart OKC would look into signing Camby since they lack a great center of their own. I doubt he’d go there for the above mentioned reasons, which really only leaves the Lakers and us. The Lakers already have a huge payroll, but they do need to upgrade their bench, and it could be a good move to steal Camby from us. If I’m Camby, that could be tempting. I guess we’ll know in the offseason if it’s tempting enough.

    Either way, if we lose Camby, we might want to look into bringing back Jermaine O’Neal. He has said he has fond memories of Portland, and might be looking for one last long-term contract. He’s not the player he used to be, but not too bad for 20 minutes a game backing up Oden.

  • Coup

    Tyrus was always more about his long-term potential more than anything else. Camby is obviously the guy now.

    Good call on O’Neal. Little worried about how much defense he would buy into after getting paid, and his injury history, but he’s a very solid candidate if you can’t get Camby. I’d even be OK overpaying for O’Neal if it was a similar short-term, team option contract.