With the provocative headline out of the way, here’s the answer: no. It’s not sexy, it’s not dramatic and it’s not juicy. The Houston Rockets have signed veteran center Marcus Camby to a veteran minimum, one year deal, and it’s not a precursor to other moves. Camby likes the Rockets and the Rockets like Camby. As August approaches and the NBA off-season becomes increasingly boring, any crumb of drama will be snapped up. But there’s no drama in Houston today.
Lots of people, primarily outside of Rockets-land, have been asking out loud whether Ömer Aşık is about to get moved now that Camby is in the mix. It’s certainly true that Marcus Camby has been and still is one of the most effective rebounders in the NBA. His defense is still quite solid and his shot is about as nonexistent as ever. At least half the league would be happy to have him as their backup center, and Houston has picked him up as injury insurance. Wouldn’t that be the kind of move Houston would make when preparing to move Ömer? Wouldn’t that be an interesting late-summer twist if they did? How exciting!
But if you’ve been living in Rockets-land, this is just another Monday. It would be interesting for the NBA world if a blockbuster trade was forthcoming, but this isn’t a sign of one. Camby has a home in Pearland, a Houston suburb. He had played worthwhile minutes on a less-than-worthwhile Rockets team a couple seasons ago. Houston likes him and he likes Houston. He didn’t want to sit on the bench for a non-contender in Toronto, but was content to do so for a sort-of contender in New York. It’s hard to imagine Houston’s pitch to him being very difficult. Everything was in place for him to sign a veteran minimum deal in Houston and provide that ineffable “veteran leadership.”
So, no, nothing about this screams “Ömer Aşık is traded” any more than signing Aaron Brooks signaled a Patrick Beverley or Jeremy Lin trade. The Rockets are a team that likes to have quality players all the way down the roster, and a team that seems able to re-sign players years down the line. Houston’s roster may look complete, but if Chase Budinger or Chuck Hayes somehow became available for the veteran’s minimum, they’d pounce in a heartbeat. There may be a logjam at the bottom of the bench, but that’s a good problem to have, especially once some players suffer injuries.
Of course, there’s every chance Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will make a fool of me and trade Aşık next week. Morey isn’t afraid to rock the boat in the interest of winning a championship, and he’d easily pull the trigger on anything that he judged to be “the right deal.” But that’s unrelated to this signing. Bringing Camby in was a move in and of itself. He improves the team’s chances, even if only slightly. Don’t read too much into it, even if a later trade makes that oh-so-tempting.