The Houston Rockets have officially signed free-agent center Marcus Camby.
Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears first broke the story on Twitter:
Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen reported more details:
Camby chose to sign with the Rockets as a free agent, a person with knowledge of the decision said, to play for team far more prepared to compete than the team he left as a free agent last summer. A longtime resident of Pearland, Camby also considered the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
Camby will sign a veteran’s minimum, worth $1.4 million next season.
Camby, a 17-year veteran, is still pursuing his first NBA championship. He will have a legitimate chance to finally capture a ring with the new-look Rockets at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign.
He became available after the New York Knicks packaged him as part of the Andrea Bargnani trade with the Toronto Raptors. Uninterested in being a part of the rebuilding effort in Canada, Camby sought his release and was granted it via buyout in mid-July.
The big man provides more depth in the Houston frontcourt, featuring Dwight Howard, Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejūnas and Greg Smith. He adds a veteran presence to a young locker room that features stars James Harden and Howard.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 1996 draft holds career averages of 9.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. However, he struggled with injury as a member of the New York Knicks last season and put up an average of just 1.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 24 games.
This will not be Camby’s first stint with the Rockets. The 6’11”, 240-pound pivot spent part of the 2011-12 campaign in Houston and averaged 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 blocks in 19 games.
At this juncture, Camby’s role on the team projects to be a minuscule one, but it could increase depending on the circumstances. Howard will be the unquestioned starter at the 5, with Omer Asik serving as a high-priced but productive backup.
Camby fits in as a reserve behind both players, although the 39-year-old can soak minutes at the power forward position.
Howard has been notoriously injury-prone over the past couple of seasons, and Camby would be able to step up in the case of any absence.
Perhaps more importantly, his presence potentially provides general manager Daryl Morey the flexibility to trade Asik—who is unhappy with his demotion to backup—at some point during the upcoming campaign.
Even if Camby doesn’t end up assuming a bigger role, his leadership and rim-protection skills will help the Rockets come playoff time.
It’s a smart signing and another excellent move by Morey, who has completely transformed his franchise from a middle-of-the-road squad to a championship contender in just two years.