It is a time filled with excitement and anticipation for any Houston Rocket fan. For one loyal ex-Rocket, now is the time for high hopes. When Marcus Camby was traded by the Rockets in July 2012 back to the New York Knicks, a wave of veterans eventually joined him in an effort to clean out the entire roster.
The long-time Pearland, Texas native had said when acquired by the Rockets at the trade deadline in the 2011-’12 season that he wanted to finish his career at home. But Camby left because the team was in the midst of another rebuilding year, offering little chance to contend for anything beyond a longshot chase of a playoff spot in a tough western conference.
The Rockets got Toney Douglas and a pair of second-round picks from the Knicks in the sign-and-trade deal that started the wave of “A New Age”. Restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik were then brought in, the blockbuster trade for James Harden fell into the Rockets lap, and finally, Dwight Howard and his Superman cape decided to land in Houston this summer. As of this moment, Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith were the only players on the team that Camby last suited up for just 15 months ago.
After Camby left, the Rockets became the youngest team in the NBA, a roster full of throw-in players, new faces, unproven starters, and D-League call-ups. A year later, the Rockets are thought by many to be Western Conference contenders.
But how much can Camby realistically contribute for the Rockets? Asik, for now, has the backup center position solidified, while Smith has proved he can be a rotation player. Camby averaged 1.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10.4 minutes, while playing in only 24 games. He also averaged 7.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in 19 games for the Rockets in 2012, but that contribution won’t be needed by a team that is currently stacked at the center position.
As with Dikembe Mutombo’s final seasons when he played in just 48 regular season games in his last two seasons, Camby will be asked to contribute in ways that will only occasionally be seen on the court.
With all the changes since he left, the stakes are now much higher. The need for veteran insurance, experience, and the right attitude is much greater. As much as the acquisition of Howard, and the complete turnover that has taken place in the past year can tell you about the changes in the franchise, Camby is just 1 of 3 players who have experienced it.