Knicks, Heat target Marcus Camby
It was done to allow the team to work on a potential sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets, but the Rockets aren't currently interested in dealing with the Heat.
The Rockets, according to sources, are more interested in a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks. Sources told ESPN.com that the Knicks have had discussions with the Rockets about Camby, as well as the Dallas Mavericks about a sign-and-trade for free agent Jason Kidd, who agreed to join the Knicks earlier this week.
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.
A source close to Camby would be "shocked" if he signs anywhere for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million, which is what the Heat only have available after Ray Allen agreed to their mid-level exception of $3.09 million on Friday.
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 Camby, who is meeting with the team's front office on Sunday in Houston. That's where the 38-year-old played toward the end of last season after being traded from Portland.
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.
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Camby, who played for the Knicks from 1998-2002, also wants to compete and win, and New York is in the 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 San Antonio Spurs.
However, the biggest obstacle for the Knicks landing Camby will be his future role. A source close to Camby said his priority is to be a starter, which wouldn't happen in New York with Tyson Chandler holding down the middle. If Heat president Pat Riley works his recruiting magic like he did with Allen, Camby would likely be the starting center in Miami next season playing for the veteran's minimum.
If Camby ends up going to the Heat or signs with another team, the Knicks would likely turn their attention to re-signing unrestricted free agent Jared Jeffries. He would be a good 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.
In addition to the Heat and Knicks, the Mavericks and Spurs also have expressed interest in Camby. The latest team in the mix is the Brooklyn Nets, who possibly will be meeting with Camby in the next couple of days.
The Heat are scheduled to host veteran power forward Rashard Lewis on Sunday. Lewis recently was bought out by the New Orleans Hornets. With Allen set to take the Heat's mid-level exception when he signs after Wednesday, Lewis is facing the same option in Miami as Camby.
The best the Heat can offer is the $1.4 million veteran's minimum. Lewis is not eligible for a sign-and-trade.
A source familiar with Lewis' free-agency plans said the forward also likely will be meeting with the Hawks and Celtics next week. The Knicks have expressed interest, but there is no meeting arranged yet.
The Knicks are expected to re-sign J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, but they could use another 3-point shooter off the bench. Last season, the Knicks ranked near the bottom of the league in 3-point percentage.
Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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