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July 16, 2008

Camby traded to Clips by Nuggets

cambyjr.jpgPhoto by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The LA Clippers have found an interesting way to recover from the Elton Brand defection to Philly. With the Denver Nuggets looking to purge salary from their team, the Nuggets agreed to send Marcus Camby to the LA Clippers for the rights to switch 2nd round picks. That's it.

Simply, the Nuggets are admitting that their current core is not going to get it done in the West, so they are retooling and cutting back costs. They have been over the NBA luxury tax for some time and have grown tired of 1st round flame outs for such an expensive roster. Kenyon Martin's max salary is the major culprit, as Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson are at least earning their money. Nene Hilario also has a 10+ million per year contract.

You will probably just see the Nuggets now play much smaller, with Carmelo Anthony assuming the power forward slot. Nene should provide more offense, especially interior scoring. He has the bulk to finish at high percentages, but lacks Camby's athleticism and length for blocks. So a porous defense may be even worse in 2008. With Allen Iverson's monster contract off the books, they can either resign him to a more reasonable amount or use that cap space after the 2008-09 season to completely reform their team.

This deal is very similar to last year's trade of Jason Richardson from Golden State traded to the Charlotte Bobcats for nothing. The Warriors knew they had a lot of young, guard talent they were going to need to sign and the Bobcats like the Clippers had cap space to offer.

Camby with the Clippers should provide an interesting combination with Chris Kaman. Both can block shots, but Camby being a league leader type will likely have the lion's share of chances at the rim now. This should allow Kaman to focus his energy on his post scoring, and overall the defense will be aided by Camby's 3+ blocks per game. Camby at 8 million per year is a steal for his all around production.

This is assuming he stays healthy. Camby has been fortunate the last few years to show up for 70 and 79 games respectively after being very brittle early on in his career (~50 games per year in the 90's).

The same problem can be said about Nene, who has been even more injury prone. The Nuggets were probably unwise to lock up both him and Kenyon Martin for long contracts, but they will have to ride them out and hope both players can stay on the court.