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Keeping Camby was Denver's primary goal

DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets took care of their top
offseason priority, agreeing to terms with center Marcus Camby on a
multiyear contract.

The deal, reached late Thursday, will be signed July 14 after
the NBA's moratorium on free-agent signings is lifted, according to
Camby's agent, Rick Kaplan. Terms weren't disclosed.

"Marcus thinks the franchise is headed in the right
direction," Kaplan said Friday. "From the time he first arrived
in Denver to where the franchise is now, it has improved
exponentially and he thinks it's only going to get better."

Plagued by injury problems for most of his eight-year career,
Camby had perhaps his best season last year.

Playing in a career-high 72 games, Camby averaged 8.6 points,
10.1 rebounds and 2.6 shots to help the Nuggets reach the playoffs
for the first time in nine years. In four playoff games against
Minnesota, Camby's averages increased to 12.6 points and 11.4
rebounds, and he played a key role in slowing league MVP Kevin
Garnett.

"Everybody knows Marcus is the core of our team," Nuggets
forward Carmelo Anthony said. "If Marcus is down, we're all down.
When Marcus is healthy, we play our best basketball. So for us to
get him back, it was great."

Camby became a free agent last month when he opted out of his
contract, but made it clear he wanted to stay in Denver.

"I'm extremely happy that this appears to have worked out,"
Camby said in a statement through Kaplan. "I've said all along
that Denver was my first choice."

With Camby's contract taken care of, Denver can now focus on
pursuing some of the other top free agents. The Nuggets were about
$23 million under the salary cap before the Camby deal and could be
big players in free agency.

Team officials have spoken with the agents for Los Angeles
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and New Jersey restricted free agent
Kenyon Martin. Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Quentin
Richardson and Portland small forward Darius Miles met with team
officials Thursday, and San Antonio Spurs restricted free agent
Manu Ginobili was expected to visit Friday.

The Nuggets also have expressed interested in Seattle's Brent
Barry and Chicago's Jamal Crawford, a restricted free agent.

"We need to spend our money wisely," Anthony said. "Get some
good players in here who know what we're about and know what our
system is and who wants to come in ready to win."