Keeping Camby was Denver's primary goal

Updated: July 2, 2004, 9:05 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Marcus Camby
Denver Nuggets
72 8.6 10.1 1.8 .477 .721

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."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press