Camby's Future Could Hinge on Clippers' Record
Indications are the Los Angeles Clippers will more strongly consider dealing the coveted big man if the team is not in good position to make the playoffs as the Feb. 18 trade deadline approaches. If the Clippers (19-23), who are five games out of the No. 8 spot in the West, are in contention then, there is a better chance of Camby staying.
Still, Camby's chances of remaining might not be as good as they were before power forward Blake Griffin was ruled out for the season last week due to a broken left kneecap.
Speaking to FanHouse on Dec. 26, Clippers coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy did not sound like a man ready to deal Camby, who becomes a free agent this summer.
"Everybody on our team could be traded,'' Dunleavy said then. "But we're not looking to trade him at all.''
Talking to FanHouse before Thursday's 105-85 loss to Denver at the Pepsi Center, Dunleavy did not offer as strong of a declaration.
"Committed at that time,'' Dunleavy said in reference to the previous interview. "But yet I said about all our guys, if a deal comes up that makes sense for us we don't have anybody that's not tradeable ... None of us know what's out there. So I can't say somebody is untradeable, and it won't happen.''
Dunleavy had spoken before about being eager to see how Camby looked playing alongside Griffin, although he denied Thursday that Griffin being lost for the season would affect the decision whether to trade Camby.
But not having Griffin could affect the Clippers' record. Camby didn't disagree his chances could be enhanced of being dealt if the Clippers are not in good position to make the playoffs by the trade deadline.
"Probably,'' said Camby, who is averaging 8.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.98 blocks and would be extremely attractive to a contending team due to his defensive skills and expiring contract.
Camby, 35, reiterated he wants to remain with the Clippers past the trade deadline. But he's not getting his hopes up.
"I want to be here, but I said the same thing when I was in Denver,'' said Camby, traded by the Nuggets to the Clippers in July 2008. "So it remains to be seen ... The NBA is a business. You can get your hopes up and then you get your hopes and dreams crushed.''
That's what happened when Camby was sent to the Clippers in what was regarded as a salary dump. But the Nuggets surprised NBA observers by picking up point guard Chauncey Billups three and a half months after dispatching Camby, and advancing to the Western Conference finals.
Camby initially was very upset at being dealt by Denver. But he said that's behind him and would consider signing with the Nuggets next summer as a free agent.
"Anything's possible,'' Camby said after totaling seven points and six rebounds against his former team. "As you can tell by the reception I got (Thursday), you know I still got a lot of supporters here. Walking off the court, and just hearing people say how they missed me here. Obviously, I missed those guys (in Denver's) locker room. I'm not burning any bridges. Anything's possible.
"I was irritated (by the July 2008 trade), but that was almost two years ago. I still have good friends over there. No animosity toward (the Nuggets). I loved playing with (Carmelo Anthony) and Nene is like my brother and (Kenyon Martin) and J.R. (Smith) is like my little brother.''
Camby has maintained ties to Denver. In fact, about 30 youngsters from the city's Boys & Girls Club, which he continues to work with, were invited by Camby to Thursday's game.
Camby had told FanHouse last month the Clippers are his top priority when it comes to picking a team next summer, and that has yet to change. But it remains to be seen if the Clippers, who have much younger big men Griffin, Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan as long-term pieces, would want to commit much to Camby.
"I like our team,'' Camby said. "We've got a bunch of great guys who are very talented... So it's a situation that can be promising.''
But first things first. Camby now must wait to see where he's playing when he wakes up Feb. 19.
Anthony recently told reporters he'd love to see Camby, who has salary-cap number of $9.15 million, return to Denver this season but acknowledged that's a long shot. A source close to the situation on Thursday didn't expect the Nuggets, who have their rotation set and don't want to spend much money to add to their luxury-tax bill, would make any deal of significance by the trade deadline.
Kaman told FanHouse last month it would be a "bad move'' if the Clippers traded Camby. Guard Baron Davis agrees, saying he "absolutely'' wants Camby to stay.
"Definitely,'' Davis said. "He's the heart of our defense. He's been great in the locker room for us. He's one of our leaders on this team ... I love having him on this team ... Everybody knows what each and every individual feels about Marcus on this team.''
If Davis wants to help the chances of Camby sticking around, the Clippers would be well served to win enough games over the next few weeks to be in playoff contention.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson