The 6’11 big man out of UMass came in to the league with a lot of fanfare. A storied college career capped by a run to the Final Four and a Wooden Award, before leaving after his junior season, led a lot of people to believe that Camby was destined for NBA greatness…and for the most part, they were right.
Camby was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 1996 and was “All-Rookie First Team” in 1997. By 1998, he was already considered an elite defender, leading the league in blocked shots. After the 97-98 season, he was traded by Toronto to the Knicks for Charles Oakley and was a member of the ’99 Finals team with LJ, Allan Houston, and Latrell Sprewell.
The Knicks, headscratchingly, sent Camby to Denver for Antonio McDyess in 2002. In Denver, Camby lead the league in blocks in ’06, ’07, and ’08 while also winning the “Defensive Player of the Year” award in 2007. Denver then dealt Camby in 2008 to the L.A. Clippers for the right to swap second round picks. Camby had one memorable moment with the Clips when he pulled down 27 rebounds (a career high) in a game against the Chicago Bulls.
His tour with L.A. lasted two seasons before being traded yet again, this time to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010. After helping get the Blazers to the playoffs, Camby signed a two-year extension with the club. Camby was traded a fifth time to the Houston Rockets in a deadline deal back in March of this year. Then after the lockout-shortened season, Camby was dealt a sixth (and hopefully final) time back to the Knicks as part of a sign-and-trade that sent Toney Douglas, Jorts, and Jerome Jordan to Houston.
“Once a Knick, Always a Knick…”, right?
Marcus was not brought back to New York for his offensive prowess. He has always been a good finisher around the rim and a decent free-throw shooter (67% for his career). The Knicks will not rely on him to score for them at any point this season, but we also won’t cringe when somebody dumps him the ball around the basket and he’ll get a lot of easy points on put-backs.
This is why Camby is back in a Knicks uniform! The team has arguably the best defensive player in the league in Tyson Chandler, but the team suffered mightily when Chandler would rest or (gulp) get hurt! Camby will provide a more than adequate backup to Tyson as not only is he a great weak-side defender, he is still one of the best rebounders in the league, averaging around 10 per game the last three seasons. He is also still a formidable shot blocker averaging one to two blocks per game there as well.
ROLE ON THE TEAM:
Camby will only be asked to play 12-15 minutes a game and that’s good, because he will be highly effective in that role. Besides spelling Chandler, he’ll also be able to give Coach Woodson some flexibility if he doesn’t want to move Melo to PF when STAT comes out. Camby brings more veteran leadership to the locker room and has 10 years of playoff experience. He’s a fan favorite and was on the last Knicks team to ever sniff a championship! He will not hurt this team in any way when he’s on the floor. At age 38, he was still one of the most desired players for playoff teams looking to add depth. He was a great acquisition for the Knicks that makes them defensively tougher and hopefully brings some of the ’99 magic back with him!