Marcus Camby headlines Donnie Walsh's supporting cast in case Lebron James

Frank Isola

The Knicks’ primary target this summer is LeBron James, but when it
comes to the supporting cast Donnie Walsh plans to assemble, the team
president has his eye on a free agent with New York ties.
The Knicks, according to sources, will make a strong push for Marcus Camby, who 11 years ago played a significant role in helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals. Walsh has tried for two years to acquire the 7-foot Camby and last month lost out again when the Clippers traded him to Portland.

Although Camby turns 36 in two weeks, he still moves well and doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. Instead, he is the shot-blocking, rebounding type of center Walsh and Mike D’Antoni covet.

"He only has great memories of New York," Camby’s agent, Rick Kaplan, said on Friday in Toronto. "But he’s having a great time in Portland. He really enjoys that team."

The Knicks’ interest in Camby is a clear sign that management is convinced David Lee can’t continue to play out of position at center. Although Lee’s quickness gives him an advantage over most centers, his lack of size and girth under the basket have hurt the Knicks all season.

On Friday, Toronto scored 62 points in the paint despite All-Star power forward Chris Bosh missing the game with an upset stomach. Lee is neither a shot-blocker nor a player who is willing to draw charges. And when the Knicks’ perimeter players are beaten off the dribble, Lee is vulnerable as the last line of defense.

"Sometimes I dream that I’m 7 feet tall," Lee joked with reporters following Friday’s 102-96 loss.

Lee, however, did get defensive when asked about the Knicks’ lack of an interior presence. The first-time All-Star seemed taken aback by the line of questioning after leading the Knicks with 23 points, 18 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"If you’re looking for someone to blame I guess you can blame me for the defense," he said. "I’m doing my best at 6-9 and I’m going to continue to try and get better and control the paint better. A lot of times I’m playing guys five or six inches bigger than I am and 50 pounds heavier."

Lee is one of the league’s most improved offensive players, but a fair criticism of his game is that he doesn’t use his fouls judiciously, if at all. He had yet to commit a foul entering the fourth quarter against Toronto despite numerous chances to prevent layups and perhaps send a strong message.

And when it was suggested that it might benefit him to occasionally deliver a hard foul to a penetrating guard, Lee fired back, saying: "We got a Charles Oakley thing going here? I don’t know what to say about that.

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