Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Marcus Camby is a Los Angeles Clipper, the Denver Nuggets have a trade exception that they'll never use, and by now you've probably read nearly all you need to know on this sort of deal.

I was away from my computer until a few hours ago, scoping out Him, Slinky Redfoot, and Their trusty angel-girls, and I'm assuming most of the mainstream-o-phere and blogosphere has dutifully (and expertly) weighed on a deal that by now you're aware has less to do with talent-fo'-talent and more to do with both teams getting what they want.

Did both teams get what they want? Probably not, but in a certain way, yes. This is why we're going to take this two parts at one time:

1). Ask anyone who saw a Nuggets game last year and the one prior that wasn't on national TV, and they'll tell you that Marcus Camby is overrated as a defender.

I'm not being cool, I'm not acting the contrarian, and I'm not trying to fly in the face of conventional wisdom just to keep things interesting. The guy doesn't leave the paint, he doesn't fight through screens, he won't show on a pick and roll, and he can (as it has been since 1996) be bullied in the low post.

This fine post from Pickaxe and Roll leads to a series of other fine posts that echo what the proprietor of that site and other Nugget fans have been saying: Marcus gets blocks, and defensive rebounds, but he hurts his team defensively at times. I'm not going to go as far as to say that he hurts the team "nearly" as much defensively as he helps it - defensive boards and blocked shots still count - but Defensive Player of the Year? All-NBA Defense? No way.

So here is Los Angeles' (not entirely pitiable, I submit) dilemma: Camby and Chris Kaman seem like a pair that could use the bumps in one head to fill the holes in another. The rebounds are there, the blocks are there, so the defense has to be there ... right?

Not quite. One of these guys is going to actually deign to move their feet and contest or take away a shot or 19, over the course of a game (especially with the limited Clipper depth).

Neither Camby or Chris have shown an interest in that sort of role since 2003 or so, and while that allows for the stats to pile up, it could also for a center or power forward with any sort of touch or handle or screen-settling abilities (or, Larry Graham-forbid, some combination of the three) to have a field day even as the two combine for five blocks and 25 rebounds.

2). Trade exceptions? Nobody uses them.

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke has shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax in the past, so this should leave me to assume that he's amenable to pay it in the future assuming the right ... no, I'm stopping there. The guy has 14 GMs, plus a high-priced coach. His franchise hasn't made it to the second round of the playoffs since Bryant Stith rocked the number 23. He's not paying it anymore.

Sure, the Nugs could turn around and feel like Nocioni tonight, but it's not happening. Prove me wrong, Stan, but I think you're set to try and trade Allen Iverson between now and February, and I think you're on the right path. Don't prove me wrong.

On the flip side?

1). The Clippers could get Camby to show on the perimeter, and his contract works.

Mike Dunleavy could get through to the guy. That's one hope.

Beyond that? It's a two year deal, and I'm not altogether convinced that he'll even spend an entire season as a Clipper.

Remember, any team that deals for contracts that end in 2010 aren't exactly out for LeBron and D-Wade or Amare or Carlos Boozer or Speedy Claxton. They're also looking for teams that are trying to clear space to sign a Claxton or Wade or LeBron. Or Boozer, even. Or Tony Battie. Camby can still be moved, by that point. More than once or even twice, actually. That last part wasn't a joke. 

2). As mentioned before, the Nuggets are making the right move.

I was surprised to see Denver make such a decisive move, based on the sheer amount of cooks in the kitchen up in Colorado (even if Kroenke has moved George Karl to the front of house), but this is a good sign. Any other deal (for Kirk Hinrich or Artest or Lamar Odom or any measure of ho-hum that leads to the exact amount of salary being sent back Denver's way) would have just prolonged the inevitable.

Could they have gotten more? Yes. Could they have done better? Not bloody likely.

The goal was to cut salary, and adding even a lower-rung first round pick (with that salary that you're forced to pay, for at least two years) doesn't fit. Best to make a clean break with a guy who was born in 1974. You got the best years of this guy's career, and it got you to the first round. Other factors went into that, but cap flexibility is worth its weight in cap flexibility. It's weighty. And worth it. 

The Nuggets weren't working. The team could have worked, but it didn't. An admirable try, by the front office at least, but the West is too loaded to just hope for the best.

AI, through little fault of his own, could be the next domino to fall, and that's not a horrible thing. In the West, you have to take chances. The Iverson-Anthony-Camby triptych failed, kudos for trying, and now it's time for the Nuggets take another calculated risk. Bravo for that.

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