Here's the latest: The Knicks are trying to first finalize how they're going to acquire Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. Kidd is definite, while Camby remains in a holding pattern. However, the Knicks remain the favorite. According to a source familiar with Camby's situation, his meeting with the Knicks on Sunday in Houston was "very positive."
The Knicks are hoping to make a sign-and-trade deal for one of them and use their $3.09 million mid-level exception to sign the other. Some trade pieces New York potentially would send to Houston for Camby include Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrellson and Dan Gadzuric. They'd prefer to keep Jordan and Harrellson if they can.
The Heat appear to be the fiercest competition, as they're planning a potential sign-and-trade (That's why Camby postponed his meeting in Miami on Saturday to allow the team to work on such a deal.) The Heat no longer have their mid-level exception because it will going to Ray Allen, and a source would be "shocked" if Camby signs anywhere for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.
That financial factor is one of the biggest reasons why the Knicks have the edge over the Heat and are the early favorite to land the 38-year-old Camby.
In addition to the opportunity for a higher salary, a source close to Camby said the center is drawn to the Knicks because he has a "great relationship" with general manager Glen Grunwald. He was the assistant general manager in Toronto in 1996 when the Raptors made the center the second pick in that year's NBA draft.
Camby, who played for the Knicks from 1998-2002, also wants to compete and win, and New York is in a position to do that next season. Camby once played on the biggest stage with the Knicks. He was their starting center in the 1999 NBA Finals -- replacing the injured Patrick Ewing -- against the Spurs.
Whether or not Camby joins the Knicks, they'll likely be interested in re-signing unrestricted free agent Jared Jeffries, who has made it clear that he'd love to return. He would be a bargain at the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million considering his defensive presence last season. Jeffries drew a total of 26 fouls and 10 charges -- both tops on the Knicks -- and that was even while missing 27 regular-season games with right knee problems.
If the Knicks lock up Kidd and Camby, it's likely they'll turn their attention to not only re-signing Jeffries, but also Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and matching Jeremy Lin's offer sheet with the Rockets for four years, $28.8 million. The consensus feeling is that the Knicks will not let Lin go.
Two sources familiar with the Knicks' free-agency plans said they can't see them matching Landry Fields' offer sheet with the Raptors for three years, $20 million. If that is the case, the Knicks will need to use an available $1.4 million veteran's minimum to sign another combo/shooting guard, especially with Iman Shumpert out until January. They could also use a small portion of their mid-level exception to sign a cheap third-string point guard.
Another source familiar with the Knicks' free-agency plans said Mike Woodson is not stuck on using strict-position players, but more on interchangeable-position players. In fact, the source said Woodson could likely play Lin and Kidd in the backcourt together, and at times they could even start.
With that said, expect combo guards at the veteran's minimum to be on the Knicks' radar. Those could include unrestricted free agents Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, Jonny Flynn, Willie Green, Jannero Pargo and Delonte West.
As for cheap point guards, those could include Mike James and Pablo Prigioni, an Argentinian who has already met with the Knicks. John Lucas III is an outside shot because he's already received a couple of higher offers.
If the Knicks focus on shooting guards, two candidates could be Raja Bell and Sonny Weems, who played in Lithuania last year after three years in the NBA. But he's still only 26 and has the talent to return to the league. While Bell didn't play at all in the second half of last season with the Jazz, the 35-year-old defensive specialist and shooter was healthy and would be a solid addition. While he's currently not interested in the Knicks, Grunwald should inquire about Bell, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 11 after he was bought out by the Jazz.
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