By John Schmeelk
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Both local basketball teams were trying to add a center to their roster this week. Of course, one is a slightly bigger deal than the other. Putting Dwight Howard aside for the time being, the Knicks got their man. Marcus Camby will once again be a member of the New York Knicks.

Clearly on the downside of his career at age 38, Camby still provides a lot of value for the Knicks off the bench. He averaged nine rebounds in only 23 minutes, good enough for one of the best rates in the NBA. He averaged a block-and-a-half per game as well. He can provide the same type of rebounding and defense that Tyson Chandler does as a starter. He can also still hit the mid-range jump shot that can help spread the floor a little bit.

But is Camby’s value worth the price that the Knicks had to pay in order to get him? $4-plus million a year — or $3 million if only guaranteed money is counted — is a lot to pay for a player with declining statistics at age 38. Money aside, the Knicks also had to trade two second-round picks and Josh Harrellson, a player who showed last year that he can be a bench player in this league. Jerome Jordan is also a young player that some feel could provide an impact down the road. Now the Knicks don’t have second-round picks from 2013-2015, and no first-round pick in 2014. They also spent $2 million of their $3 million yearly allowance that they can use to buy picks in next year’s draft. I understand the concept of trying to win now, but completely throwing away draft picks is often a fool’s errand. That could cost the team.

That being said, with the addition of Camby the Knicks now have three big men — along with Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire — who can seriously impact the game in one way or another. If Jared Jeffries is re-signed that will make four. Dan Gadzuric, under a non-guaranteed contract, is the fifth. Considering the fragility of Stoudemire and Jeffries – Chandler, too, until last year — the Knicks can use as many bodies as they can amass at power forward and center. There is no other team that can boast a rebounding and defensive duo at the center position better than Camby and Chandler.

The Knicks also decided to bring back Steve Novak. Four years at $3.5 million per season might be a little steep for a completely one-dimensional player, but Novak earned the money and the Knicks are over the cap for the foreseeable future anyway. I don’t like committing money four years from now, but it isn’t a big deal from the Knicks’ perspective. He could be a valuable expiring contract in 2015. This season, he’ll be instant offense off the bench backing up Carmelo Anthony.

JR Smith will come back for the maximum possible raise off of last year’s contract. Until Iman Shumpert returns, he will likely be the team’s starting shooting guard since the Knicks won’t likely match Landry Fields’ ridiculous contract from the Raptors. This is great value for JR Smith, who for all his faults can score in bunches, hit the open three and defend on the perimeter. The Knicks will have a bigger decision to make on him next year, since Smith will likely opt out of his new deal and the Knicks will have his Bird Rights.

Once the Knicks match Houston’s offer for Jeremy Lin, they will have the core of their roster in place. It should be one that’s good enough to get the team a home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs. Glen Grunwald did the best he could with the resources he had available to him. Did they overpay for pieces? Probably, but it shouldn’t cost the team long-term since these contracts are for relatively low dollar figures. The Knicks have a three-year window to win now, and they’re going for it.


– The Knicks released their summer league team, and there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. I’d be shocked if anyone in that group makes the team.

I’ll continue to provide coverage of NBA free agency on Twitter, and you can follow me on Twitter here

How do you like how the Knicks’ offseason has played out thus far? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…