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Marcus Camby: Portland Trail Blazer

Word has come out via the likes of ESPN‘s Ric Bucher and Yahoo! Sports that the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers have been talking about the possibility of making Marcus Camby a Blazer and in turn making Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake Clippers. In the past 24 hours, the rumours went from near definite, to potential talks.

However now it appears that the deal is confirmed (barring a problem with the normal medical checks). Jason Quick of the Oregonian has spoken to Outlaw’s agent, Bill Duffy, with him confirming that the deal has been done and that the longest serving Trail Blazer will be on his way to California.

Outlaw late Monday night said his agent, Bill Duffy, informed him that the deal should be finished on Tuesday.

“He said it is still being finished, but that it should go through,” Outlaw said.

The deal, which will also include the Blazers giving cash to Los Angeles, is expected to be finalized on Tuesday, well before the noon Thursday trading deadline, and on the same day the Clippers are in Portland to play the Blazers in the Rose Garden.

Outlaw has been around the NBA for long enough and has likely heard enough trade rumours involving his name over the years, to accept the situation.

“I’m cool with it,” Outlaw said of the trade. “It doesn’t bother me. This is a business. I’ll just go somewhere else and play. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity Portland gave me, but I also know it’s a business.”

In terms of how this affects both teams, there isn’t a great deal of impact. It is clear to most people that the Blazers are not going to win a title this year — they simply don’t have the horses for it. And frankly, they probably never did. Not with their inexperience relative to the likes of the Lakers, who they would have to get through in the West.

However this is clearly a shot at making a solid playoff push in 2010 by Kevin Pritchard. Bringing in Camby plugs a hole in the middle that has been vacated by the injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla. It alleviates the stress on Juwan Howard’s body in being forced to play 40 minute games against much bigger men. It allows Jeff Pendergraph to grow naturally, rather than being thrown into the fire as a starting NBA centre as a rookie. And it gives the Blazers what Oden was always meant to be — a shot blocking, rebounding, presence in the middle. On offence, Nate McMillan won’t expect Camby to do much more than execute a few put-backs, knock down the occasional mid-range jumper and convert a couple of Andre Miller-fed alley-oops.

Camby may well walk at the end of the season, when his contract expires. To be fair, that is probably the best thing for the Blazers anyway. I’ve always maintained that Portland should not make a deal unless it was going to be for a young big man; one who could grow with the Blazers youthful nucleus. However, perhaps no such deal was on the table.

Outlaw and RoyLosing Outlaw (Brandon Roy’s best friend on the team) and Blake means the loss of two very well-liked parts of this tight-knit Blazers locker-room. It definitely will disrupt chemistry. It will mean that the Blazers lose the point guard best able to run McMillan’s offence and best able to pair with Roy in the backcourt. It also means that they lose a well-established bench scorer in Outlaw, one who was often relied upon to spearhead the second unit and hit game-winning shots.

On the other hand, it solves a lot of problems and answers a lot of questions. Blake and Outlaw’s departure means that a greater deal of certainty is afforded to the likes of Miller and Jerryd Bayless at the point, as well as Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster and Nicolas Batum at the swingman positions. McMillan has dealt with the headache of minutes issues for long enough. Moving one player from each of his two most stacked positions lessens this headache, whilst not entirely alleviating it.

Blake and Outlaw have long been the two most discussed options to be traded amongst rumour-mongering fans and writers. Will they be missed? Definietly. As a fan of the Blazers it does feel like the end of an era to an extent, seeing both of these solid pillars of the community being dealt. Depending on circumstances down the track, it would not surprise me to see either of them return in Blazers colours.

For the Clippers, receiving a scorer like Outlaw (albeit an injured one) might be viewed as a nice return. Equally, a solid backup point guard to Baron Davis, in Blake, means a great deal to any team. However players are people and these things are not always received so well. Word is that Camby had intended to re-sign with the Clippers when his deal expires this Summer. Thus, the deal came as an unpleasant surprise to he and his teammates. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

In town in advance of their Tuesday game against the Trail Blazers, the Clippers were having a team dinner at Portland’s Ringside steakhouse Monday night when Camby received a call on his cell phone from his agent, Rick Kaplan. Kaplan informed Camby that he will likely be traded to Portland.

After taking the call from Kaplan, Camby immediately walked out of the restaurant. A source close to Camby says that while he recognizes the benefits of playing for a better team, he is upset because his family is comfortably settled in Los Angeles. He had hoped to re-sign with the Clippers this summer.

“He likes the Clippers, he likes the organization, he likes L.A.,” the source said. “His wife is happy in L.A. And he’s not one for change. He’s definitely not happy about this.”

Camby isn’t the only one angry.

Said one Clipper: “All the guys are upset because our best defensive player got traded basically for a backup point guard and money.”

It was a similar reaction from his Denver Nuggets cohorts when he was dealt to the Clippers. No one likes losing a good person like Camby, particularly when he has your back every night swatting shots and grabbing rebounds.

The deal is not yet done, but it sounds like it is as good as. Once complete, the Trail Blazers will be running a clearer lineup that looks something like this for the remainder of the season:

PG Miller ¦ Bayless ¦ Mills
SG Roy ¦ Fernandez
SF Webster ¦ Batum
PF Aldridge ¦ Cunningham ¦ Pendergraph
C Camby ¦ Howard

Meanwhile the Clippers will be running something like this, assuming a return from injury by Outlaw in the not too distant future (though his return is uncertain):

PG Davis ¦ Blake ¦ Telfair
SG Gordon ¦ Davis ¦ Collins
SF Butler ¦ Outlaw
PF Thornton ¦ Smith
C Kaman ¦ Jordan

And for Patty Mills fans, this is only a smidgen of good news really. It does mean that the next time a backcourt injury occurs (and given the Blazers’s season, it will happen), he will enter the second unit. For example, whilst Roy is out and Bayless is starting at the two, it will mean backup point guard duties at some points for Mills. The same will be the case if Bayless has more problems with his ankle etc.  However this season is still an unlikely place to see any extended Patty Mills action.

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