This year's free agency has been mostly highlighted by players in their late 30s, from Steve Nash, to Jason Kidd, to Ray Allen -- veteran players who still have game left to help a contending team. Now, Marcus Camby is the latest one to receive interest from several top ballclubs.
The 38-year-old unrestricted free agent will be meeting with the Miami Heat and then the New York Knicks this weekend, according to a source with knowledge of Camby's plans. Those two are viewed as the favorites to land the four-time blocks leader, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Both teams need more of an interior presence, and for the Knicks, they don't have a proven and seasoned big man in their second unit locked up yet.
While the Heat offered Allen their mid-level exception, which starts at $3.09 million per season, sources say the former All-Star shooting guard is torn between accepting the Heat's offer and returning to the Boston Celtics. If he says no to the Heat, they could offer that contract amount to Camby, and he likely would become their starting center.
The Knicks, on the other hand, may not have the same mid-level exception. That's because it's not known yet if the Kidd acquisition will be from an outright signing or via a sign-and-trade. A source close to Camby would be "shocked" if Camby played for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million. He earned roughly $11.2 million in 2011-12 with the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, and he is still very serviceable. Missing only seven regular-season games last season, he averaged 4.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
The biggest obstacle for the Knicks landing Camby will be his future role. The same source said Camby's priority is to be a starter, which wouldn't happen in New York, with Tyson Chandler holding down the middle. But the Knicks would certainly be considered, the source said, because Camby wants to compete and win, and the team is in the position to do that next season. The source also said Camby has a great relationship with general manager Glen Grunwald, who was the assistant GM in Toronto in 1996 when the Raptors made the center the second pick in that year's NBA draft.
If Camby goes to the Heat or signs with the Rockets, Dallas Mavericks or San Antonio Spurs -- other teams in the hunt for him -- the Knicks likely would 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.
Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.