Commentary

Fantasy Spin: Marcus Camby to the Clippers

Updated: July 17, 2008, 12:33 PM ET
By Guy Lake | Special to ESPN.com

As you probably have read, the Clippers acquired Marcus Camby from Denver for the option to switch second-round picks in next year's draft and a $10 million trade exception. In other words, they gave up -- I'm searching for the right word -- nothing.

This clearly was a salary dump by the Nuggets (who were deep into the luxury tax), and the number of teams with room under the cap was two: the Clippers and the Grizzlies. Read John Hollinger's excellent analysis for more on the money details of the deal before you send a expletive-laced e-mail to your local GM asking why he couldn't afford to give up, er, nothing for one of the premier defensive players in the league.

Not many (any?) other teams could have gotten this sweet a deal, because they couldn't take on Camby's salary. As for you benighted Nuggets fans, I am sorry. Your team VP of basketball operations, Mark Warkentien, tells us that this is a chess move, not a checkers move, and that it will take time to see the wisdom of it. Well, as a basketball move, it ranks somewhere below Adonal Foyle's Dream Shake.

Here in fantasyland, we are more concerned with how the deal will play out for each team. Who wins and who loses in this deal? Read on to find out.

The Clippers
[+] EnlargeChris Kaman
D. Clarke Evans/Getty ImagesChris Kaman will have another big man to contend with down low.

Chris Kaman: Fate is a fickle mistress, Mr. Kaman. Last week, Kaman was looking like a great value in fantasy basketball. His career-best numbers from this past season (15.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks) came with Elton Brand rehabbing his ruptured Achilles. Another season without the now-brother-loving Brand could only establish Kaman as a stud, right? Not so fast. Camby does a lot of the same things Kaman does (rebound and block shots) -- only better. I expect Kaman to score about as much as he did this past season, but his other numbers will take a hit.

Kaman will rebound about the same as when he played alongside a healthy Elton Brand -- about eight to nine boards per game. Of course, if Camby misses significant time, these numbers will jump considerably. But Kaman's blocks, a rarer and more-coveted category, will decrease significantly with the addition of Camby. Last season, Camby finished first in the NBA (3.6 blocks per game) and Kaman was third (2.8). But it is extremely rare for two players on the same team to average two blocks or better. Among players who've participated in enough games to qualify, it has been done only two times in the past five years (the Blazers' Theo Ratliff and Joel Przybilla in 2004-05, and the Spurs' Tim Duncan and Rasho Nesterovic in 2003-04). Camby's mobility will get him the greater share of swats, leaving far fewer for Kaman. Look for Kaman to settle back to 1.5-1.7 blocks per game. To sum up, downgrade your expectations from those set in Brian McKitish's NBA Offseason Notebook last week.

Marcus Camby: Though I have waxed on about Kaman's likely losses at the hand of Camby, expect some of the same the other way around. In Denver, Camby was all the Nuggets had when it came to rebounding and interior defense. He, too, will take a hit in blocks and boards. For the reasons above, I think Camby will be the team's leader in blocks -- after all, he has led the league in this category the past two seasons, while Kaman had never previously topped two blocks a game, let alone finish in the top three. I am penciling Camby in for 2.5 blocks per game.

Kaman is a formidable rebounder, averaging 8.7 per game in 153 games from the 2005-06 through the 2006-07 seasons, his past two with a healthy Brand. There is no way his efforts won't affect Camby on the glass. I expect Camby to haul in 10 to 11 boards per game next season, but not the 13.1 he averaged last season.

Scoring is not what Camby owners are looking for from the big man, but I don't foresee much change here. Kaman will remain the first option on the low post, and Camby will rarely have a play run for him. He does have an excellent point guard distributing the ball, so I expect a modest increase in scoring; he could score 10 or 11 points per game. Of course, with both players, it will come down to health. Neither has been an iron man in his career, and if either goes down, look for the blocks and rebounds to spike for the one who remains standing.

The backcourt: I don't see much fantasy impact from this trade beyond the two big men. The one other category that likely will be affected is steals. I expect the Clippers' backcourt, especially Baron Davis, to take more risks on steals. They'll be able to afford to because they'll know that guards who elude them will be funneled into the long arms of Kaman and Camby. I can see a bump in the Clippers' steals here.

The Nuggets
[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesIf these get to stick together, Camby's absence shouldn't hurt much.

Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson: I put these guys together because I think the trade has about the same impact on both players: almost none at all. It does indicate the possibility that they won't be teammates by the start of the season. The Camby trade almost certainly indicates future salary-cutting moves by the Nuggets' front office. However, so long as both guys are decked out in powder blue, many, many isolation plays will run for them for our viewing pleasure. Anthony should grab more rebounds out of necessity -- see below on the rest of the Nuggets' frontcourt -- but otherwise, his numbers should be close to last season's.

Kenyon Martin: K-Mart should see a bump in value. With Camby and Eduardo Najera gone (the latter to the New Jersey Nets), Martin becomes the team's best defender and, gulp, one of its primary rebounders. I expect the Nuggets to acquire a low-cost center to help shore up the middle. But even with another body up front, the team will rely heavily on K-Mart. Still, Martin, despite his athletic ability, is not a great rebounder. His best rebounding season, pre-surgeries, was in 2003-04, when he averaged 9.5 boards per game. Remember, though, that he is the only player in the NBA to have undergone microfracture surgery on both knees. To expect more than, say, seven boards per game from him is foolish. Because the team appears to be flushing next season down the toilet, K-Mart's motivation should be in question, and Camby's departure could drive down Martin's production instead of raise it. Martin is the best remaining shot-blocker in Denver, and I expect him to increase his numbers there. He should again snag one-plus steal per game, but don't look for a big spike in rebounds or scoring. (See isolation plays above.) In other words, nudge him up your cheat sheets a bit. He will have the room to grow his numbers. The question is, will he have the desire to do so on a lame-duck team?

Nene: It is very hard to peg Nene, but he should be the Nugget who benefits the most from this trade. At the moment, he is the team's top center. I don't expect Steven Hunter to take too many minutes from Nene, but I do expect another center to come in. Nene is recovering from testicular cancer but is reportedly healthy. If Nene can stay healthy, he could be a great value in drafts. In 2006-07, his most recent healthy season, he averaged 12.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks in slightly less than 27 minutes per game. With 30-plus minutes, Nene could move into double-double range with decent block and steal numbers. If he is the starting center to begin the season, he will make a very nice second center in shallow leagues and a decent No. 1 option in deep leagues.

Guy Lake is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at guy.fantasy@gmail.com.