There is mutual admiration between the Dallas Mavericks and veteran center Marcus Camby, a source close to the situation confirmed Monday, but that goes for quite a number of teams that could use the still very active 38-year-old protecting the rim.
The source said Camby is seeking a multiyear deal (two or three years) and prefers to return to the Rockets, the team he was traded to last March. Houston has since traded away Samuel Dalembert and on Sunday reached an agreement on a three-year, $25 million deal with Chicago Bulls restricted free-agent center Omer Asik. The Bulls will have 72 hours to match once the league's moratorium on contracts and trades ends July 11. Camby could return there regardless.
The Mavs are in a holding pattern until Deron Williams makes his decision, expected in the next day or two after representatives from the Mavs and Brooklyn Nets meet with him Monday. If Williams agrees to play for the Mavs, Dallas will have to create cap space by using the amnesty clause either on center Brendan Haywood or small forward Shawn Marion. Haywood seems to be the top candidate.
Acquiring a center then becomes paramount. Camby's asking price, however, could be too high as the Mavs' cap space tightens if he's out to maximize dollars in likely his final contract, or depending how the Mavs want to use their exceptions. And, as the axiom goes, big men get paid, even old ones.
If Williams agrees to re-sign with the Nets, the Mavs might have little choice but to hold onto Haywood, who is under contract for three more seasons and will make $8.3 million in 2012-13. They could still amnesty him, but it would be risky considering free agent Ian Mahinmi could be headed elsewhere and converted power forward Brandan Wright -- and second-round draft pick Bernard James -- is the only other so-called center on the roster (plus, the Mavs might want to pocket the amnesty card for next summer's pursuits).
Camby could still be a fine fit in Dallas with Haywood. It would make for a solid tandem and a potentially interesting battle for the starting spot, a la Tyson Chandler.
The 6-foot-11 Camby, who has averaged nearly 10 boards and more than two blocks a game throughout his career, made in excess of $11 million last season, his 16th in the league. He's made nearly $120 million in his career.
So what will the market bear now? The mini mid-level of $3 million? The full mid-level of $5 million? Some speculate that Camby could still command north of $6 million bucks a season.
Along with the Mavs and Rockets, reports have Camby considering the Knicks, Heat (who, for example, could only pay him the $3 million exception if they don't sign Ray Allen), Spurs and Celtics, all teams with varying dollars to spend.
How much Camby will make will simply depend on his preference for money and fit at this stage of a so far championship-less career.