Thursday, May 03, 2007

Should the Nuggets Trade Camby?

I was going to save this for tomorrow, but am just going to run with it while it is on my mind. After watching the Nuggets get eliminated tonight, I couldn't help but wonder where they will go from here. Blake is a free agent and probably won't be back. It wouldn't surprise me to see Karl walk away, considering everything he's dealing with. They are $11 mil over the cap ($9.7 mil if Blake leaves). They (still) desperately need a shooting guard that can hit jumpers. And they have $29 million tied up in their front court.

So what to do?

The best option is to move one of their three big guys in an effort to bring in a stud shooter. Actually, that might be their only option, short of getting someone with the mid-level (Mo Peterson? Matt Carroll? Jason Kapono? James Posey?) or snagging a second round pick and rolling the dice with someone like Ohio State's Ron Lewis (hey, maybe he can be the next Michael Redd). But short of just hoping that J.R. Smith gains maturity and defensive ability over the summer, I think they have to move a big.

The problem is that no one will take Kenyon Martin, considering that his trick knee is making his nickname tragically accurate. And while the Nuggets have seemingly been trying to trade Nene for the last year, they aren't going to want to do that now that he appears to be worth every penny. So that leaves Camby. The Defensive Player of the Year is a relative bargain at $8.8 million (with three years left on his deal) and his value will never be higher than it is right now. He has the hardware and a clean bill of health, so I would imagine that he will draw some interest.

Not only that, but I think his market value is actually more than his worth to the Nuggets. I know he won DPOY, but I actually think Nene is a better low post defender (at least on the ball). Plus, Camby is a poor fit for the new Denver offense (he had more value as a high post passer when Andre Miller was going down in the post - now he just gets in Iverson's way and serves no function when he catches passes off of penetration) and is a pretty poor pick-and-roll defender. He is athletic, plays hard, and can post gaudy rebound totals, but I think Denver can replace him with Martin and Reggie Evans and move Nene to center (just fine in this day and age).

With Camby as a bargaining chip, Denver should be able to get a legit shooter. They can target a combo guard and go with a versatile backcourt or seek more of a pure swingman, but either way, the guy needs to have a shooting stroke from deep. Denver has plenty of firepower in the lane with Iverson, Melo, and Nene, so the big key now is finding a way to stretch the floor.

Here are three possibilities:

Jason Terry, Dallas. Terry is a base-year player, which makes things a little tricky, but it looks like a Terry/Mo Ager for Camby trade works on ESPN's Trade Machine. With Diop likely to be pried away this summer, the Mavs will need to replace his defense, and Camby would seem to be a good fit. Dallas is deep enough to gamble on Camby's health in exchange for having an accomplished veteran in the middle. Plus, the time of Devin Harris is now and Terry is expendable. He has far more value in Denver where he and Iverson would create an even more explosive version of the backcourt Dallas has now. Ager would give the Nuggets another youngster to develop, while Dallas could use the #34 pick in the draft to target a replacement for Terry (Arron Afflalo, Morris Almond, Rodney Stuckey, Deaquan Cook, Jamont Gordon, and Gabe Pruitt are all players floating between 25-40 right now).

A Denver lineup of Iverson, Terry, Anthony, Martin, and Nene would be much more dangerous offensively and I think the drop off defensively would be minimal.

Mike Miller, Memphis. Let's say that the ping pong balls result in Memphis getting the #2 pick and Kevin Durant. They will suddenly have a stud perimeter scorer and will remain in need of interior help to pair with Gasol. Which makes this trade a beauty for both teams. The Grizzlies would have to add Hakim Warrick, both for salary purposes and to sweeten the deal a bit, but with Warrick in the mix, it really seems to work for both teams. Miller is more of a 3 than a 2, but that isn't a problem. Denver could go small with Iverson, Smith, Miller, Anthony, and Nene (or use the mid-level to target a headier combo guard than Smith), or they could go big with Iverson, Miller, Anthony, Martin, and Nene. In addition to being a fantastic shooter, Miller is also an underrated passer and teammate and would bring a lot to Denver, while Warrick would provide depth on the front line. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies would have Camby, Gasol, Durant, and Gay, and would be right back in the playoff mix.

Raja Bell (and picks), Phoenix. This looks like another win-win. Moving Bell for Camby would give Phoenix another athletic big man that can run, jump, and block shots and it would help them better prepare for Marionageddon, which is coming. Also, moving Bell would allow them to pursue Corey Brewer (a big upgrade) in the draft without hurting any feelings (well, other then trading the guy). As for Denver, they would be forced to take Banks for salary cap reasons (hey, maybe they can get something out of him as a backup point guard), but it is worth it to land Bell and the picks. Raja has become overrated as a defender in Phoenix, but his ability to stretch the court is actually underrated. He would be pretty ideal next to Iverson. And the picks being dealt makes sense as well. We know from recent years that Phoenix is unloading draft picks to avoid shelling out the cash, so I doubt they want to take four guys, even in a great draft. Denver could push for #24 and #29, but even #24 and #59 would be a boon since they are currently shut out of the draft.


Anonymous said...

I was ready to rip you for being stupid, but all of this actually makes sense. The Camby for Terry deal is perfect for both teams. The thing you didn't mention is that Jet has no fear of the Spurs. Not that the Nuggets should only be focused on the Spurs, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to make moves in light of what just happened against San Antonio.

I still can't believe Nene improved so much, so fast, this year that he became untradeable while also making Camby expendable. Pretty amazing turnaround. Hopefully he doesn't celebrate by eating his way through Denver this summer.

James in Denver said...

Raja Bell is a hard-nosed player, but is too limited offensively. Terry and Miller are both really good ideas and totally worth trading Camby, but I can't get behind Bell. He sucks.

Adam Hoff said...

Bell isn't a guy that will create off the dribble or anything, but he led the NBA in made threes this year and shot over 40% from deep. He is exactly what the Nuggets need. They have no use for a guy that puts the ball on the floor, seeks contact, and likes to finish at the rim. They already have those guys. They need a stand still jump shooter. And his defense - while overrated at this point - will help, because it was obvious in this series that Denver has no one to guard the top shooting guards. The more I think about it, the more Bell is the perfect fit.