- Last Updated: 7:01 AM, July 8, 2012
- Posted: 12:45 AM, July 8, 2012
LAS VEGAS — Center Marcus Camby is schedule to meet with Knicks coach Mike Woodson, general manager Glen Grunwald and assistant GM Allan Houston Sunday in Houston, and Tyson Chandler has his fingers crossed he’ll be getting a quality backup this season.
“He’s a great defender, excellent rebounder and can play without the ball,’’ Chandler, the Knicks’ starting center, said Saturday night. “Last year we struggled with my backup. … Camby has enough experience to come in and give us solid minutes.’’
Camby, 38, was supposed to meet with the Heat this weekend but cancelled that appointment.
One source said the Knicks have been “very aggressive’’ in pursuing the free agent and have a “very good shot’’ at landing him, already having talked to the Rockets about a sign-and-trade for Camby, who played for the Knicks from 1998-2002.
“Hopefully we can get it done,’’ Carmelo Anthony said. “I would love to get him back in New York, finish his career in New York. I’ve been with him in Denver. I know what type of player he is. He still has it.’’
Miami no longer is a favorite to land Camby after giving their mid-level exception to Ray Allen, but center is a key position for the Heat, and they are willing to do a sign-and-trade with the Rockets.
A source said the Nets, Mavericks and Spurs also are interested in Camby. The Nets would be torpedoing their shot at Dwight Howard if they joined the fray.
The Knicks probably can’t do sign-and-trades to acquire both Jason Kidd and Camby and still retain their $3.09 million mid-level exception. The Knicks may decide — if Camby agrees to join them — to sign Kidd via the $3.09 million mid-level exception (a three-year $9.3 million package) and do the sign-and-trade with the Rockets and not the Mavericks.
That appears to be the holdup on any sign-and-trade with Dallas to complete the Kidd acquisition. The Knicks still need to see what assets they have to deal to the Rockets, for whom Camby played the last 19 games of the 2011-12 season.
The Knicks’ chief asset to build contract money is Dan Gadzuric’s $1.4 million veteran minimum deal. Toney Douglas’ $2 million expiring contract is another asset The partially guaranteed final-year deals of centers Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan are also assets, as are second-round picks.
The Knicks also have an aggregate $3 million in cash to throw into a deal. On July 1, their ability to add money to a trade package was restored. Teams are only allowed to put a total of $3 million into a deal in a season.
The Knicks have pursued Camby for what amounts to four seasons, always making bids at the trading deadline. At the end of his stint with the Knicks, Camby was dealt unceremoniously on draft night in 2002, along with Nene and Mark Jackson, to the Nuggets in a disaster of a deal for Antonio McDyess.
The Knicks have their eye on Camby as a better big man off the bench than anyone they have. The club has thought of bringing back Jared Jeffries, but his knee trouble is a concern. The Post reported in April Jeffries would consider going to Germany for the controversial blood-therapy program and he did, leaving soon after the Knicks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Camby, who was drafted by Toronto in 1996, when Grunwald helped run the Raptors draft, already has talked with the Knicks’ front office on the phone. Camby is not interested in the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum.
If Harrellson and Jordan are traded, the Knicks’ Summer League team will be rendered meaningless. They won’t have a draft pick to play because Kostas Papanikolaou was with the Greek National Team in Venezuela for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Greece was eliminated last night, but he can’t play in the Summer League because he’s under contract.
The Knicks still have not re-signed Steve Novak. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said he is still talking to a few teams. The Knicks do not want to overpay, even if they can sign him with their Bird exception.
J.R. Smith is expected to re-sign for the 20 percent salary bump for one-year, $2.85 million.
There didn’t seem to be a big market for Smith. The Clippers, who had interest in Smith after he returned from China in February, backed away and used their full mid-level exception on Jamal Crawford. Smith’s lousy playoffs and recent arrest didn’t help.
The Knicks still have on their radar Spanish League point guard Pablo Prigioni, who is four years younger than Kidd. He is looking for a little more than the minimum and the Knicks have to find a way. The Knicks already have signed Italian Leaguer James White, an athletic swingman with 10 NBA games under his belt.
The Post reported exclusively Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet from the Rockets will be matched by the Knicks sometime after July 11. Lin is not expected in Las Vegas to rejoin the Select Team, from which he withdrew because of his contract status.Follow @NYPostsports