By Ramona Shelburne
Well, that takes a bit of the sting out of losing Elton Brand and Corey Maggette.
The Clippers, armed with $12 million in salary cap space and fueled by the lingering burn of being spurned by Brand, traded for one of the premier defensive centers in the NBA Tuesday, acquiring Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets for the right to exchange second-round picks with Denver in the 2010 draft.
Denver will also receive a $10 million trade exception, which can be used for up to a year from when the trade was completed.
“I think it will definitely help us on the defensive end,” said the Clippers newest face of the franchise, Baron Davis, who was signed to a five-year, $65 million deal last week.
“He is a very skilled big guy and I think he’ll go well with Chris Kaman. I think he’ll make Kaman a better player even.”
Why would Denver trade Camby for so little?
The Nuggets had the fourth highest payroll in the league last year and were already extended well over the league’s $58.68 million salary cap and $71.15 million luxury tax threshold. Once a team is over the luxury tax threshold, they incur dollar-for-dollar luxury taxes.
Last year, Denver accrued over $13 million in luxury taxes.
Camby is due $8 million this season in salary and $2 million bonuses, meaning the trade saves Denver between $16 and $22.5 million (when you account for bonus money Camby could earn this year).
Whatever the case, the Clippers will take it.
Camby, who has two seasons left on his contract, has been one of the best defensive big men in the NBA throughout his 12 year career. He was the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, and had been selected to the All Defensive Team every year since 2004-05.
Throughout his career, Camby, 34, has been injury-prone. But last season, he played in a career high 79 games. He led the NBA in blocks (3.61) for the third straight year, scored 9.1 points a game and averaged a career-high 13.1 rebounds a game.
In making the trade for Camby, the Clippers effectively ruled themselves out of the Josh Smith sweepstakes. According to a league source, the Clippers loved Smith and were close to making him an offer sheet. Very close.
But Smith is a restricted free agent, meaning Atlanta would’ve had seven days to match the offer and in the end, the Clippers didn’t want to take that chance.
It helped that Camby was available.
“I love this acquisition for the current make up of our team,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We are getting a consummate pro who is maybe the best team defender in the league.”
!bold!Also:!off! The Clippers officially signed second-round draft picks DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor. During the Clippers three summer league games, Jordan has averaged 8.3 points on 10-of-13 shooting, while Taylor, the first player ever drafted from the D-League, has averaged 10.7 points a game on 11-for-28 shooting.
““I’m excited,” said Jordan, who had been projected as lottery pick out of high school, but slipped to the second round of the draft after a tepid freshman season at Texas A&M. “I’m going to take this (slight) and use it as motivation to prove people wrong.
“I’m going to do whatever I need to do to make it, whatever they ask me to do. If they ask me to wipe up the floor, I’ll do that.”