Coverage from:
The New York Times - 6/25
The Associated Press - 6/25
The New York Post - 6/25
The New York Daily News - 6/25
The Toronto Star - 6/25
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - 6/26
The Associated Press - 6/26
Additional resources

Knicks Part With Oakley to Get Toronto's Camby
By Selena Roberts, The New York Times Staff, 6/25/98

The Knicks Wednesday night severed their decadelong relationship with Charles Oakley, considered the heart and soul of the team, in a trade that will send him to the Toronto Raptors for the injury-plagued, 6-foot-11-inch forward Marcus Camby, according to three officials with the teams.

In addition, the Knicks were expected to give their second pick in the draft, the 44th over all, Sean Marks, a center from California, and cash to the financially strapped Raptors.

The trade was not officially announced by the Knicks because they had not been able to contact Oakley.

The Knicks are still looking for a point guard and have expressed great interest in Milwaukee's Terrell Brandon. They could offer John Starks, Chris Mills and Chris Childs.

Early this Thursday morning, 90 minutes after the draft had ended, Ernie Grunfeld, came out of his office and said: "We will have an announcement tomorrow. We cannot announce anything until the parties involved have been contacted. This is only fair to them."

One Knick teammate who requested anonymity said Wednesday night that he "was shocked that the organization would trade Oakley."

When asked if he considered the public's outcry to the announcement, Grunfeld said, "We have to do what we have to do for our team."

The Knicks have to be concerned about public sentiment toward the 35-year-old Oakley, who was noted for his aggressive rebounding and head-first dives for loose balls since he arrived in New York in 1988.

Oakley has always been the first to say that the N.B.A. is a business-first proposition, but those close to him say that he will be upset about his trade to a noncontender.

With Camby, the Knicks are likely to move Larry Johnson back to power forward, altering the makeup of the frontcourt that was so familiar to Knick fans. Oakley's absence on the boards could mean more work for Patrick Ewing, who is coming off a season in which missed four months with a broken wrist.

The Oakley trade could have a similar impact on the Knicks, just as Mark Messier's departure had on the Rangers last season. Oakley, who does not have a no-trade clause, may not have always been close friends with his teammates but he was always well respected for his all-out effort on the court. He was considered a quiet leader and a role model to the younger players.

The deal matched almost perfectly under the cap. Oakley made $2.85 million this year and the 24-year-old Camby made $2.79 million.

Oakley was offered to the Raptors so the Knicks could get a chance at a young shot blocker and scorer like Camby.

Although Camby's knees have been fragile in his first two pro seasons, the Knicks are in need of a more active front-court player than Oakley. This need was magnified when they watched Indiana's Antonio Davis and Dale Davis block shots, grab rebounds and put down dunks as they eliminated the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs this year.

Oakley was attractive to the cash-strapped Raptors because he has one year left on his deal, even though he is scheduled to make $10 million in the balloon year of his contract next season.

Although the Raptors believed in Camby, they feared losing him next summer when he is eligible to become a free agent. Oakley might not fit in with the Raptors' high-flying style, but he could be used for a future trade.

With their first pick, No. 38 over all, the Knicks selected DeMarco Johnson, a 6-8 forward from North Carolina-Charlotte.

Raptors Trade Camby To Knicks
From The Associated Press, 6/25/98

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks weren't shopping Charles Oakley around the NBA. But when the Toronto Raptors mentioned Marcus Camby, the Knicks decided they had to make the deal.

So Camby moved to New York on Thursday in exchange for Oakley, second-round draft choice Sean Marks from California and cash considerations.

It was a swap of age and experience for youth and potential and the Knicks felt compelled to make it.

"Marcus fills a need for us to become younger and more athletic in the front court," Knicks general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. "He led the league in blocked shots and gives us versatility and youth. He has a tremendous up side."

Age was becoming a factor for New York. After trading all four of their picks from the past two drafts, the Knicks' youngest player was 27-year-old Allan Houston. Camby is 24.

"This gives us more flexibility, makes us more intimidating in the defensive end and more athletic than we've been in the past," Grunfeld said.

The price for Camby, who was the second choice in the 1996 draft, was steep. Oakley, 34, has been one of the anchors of the Knicks frontcourt for the past decade, after being acquired from the Chicago Bulls in 1988, when Camby was 14 years old.

It was the second major offseason move for Toronto GM Glen Grunwald, who earlier acquired 35-year-old Kevin Willis from Houston.

"As one of the NBA's best defenders and rebounders, Charles Oakley gives us a physical presence and mental toughness that is unsurpassed in our league," Grunwald said.

"Charles Oakley has never missed the playoffs," Raptors coach Butch Carter said. "He brings an expectation level we hope to match."

Grunfeld said parting with Oakley was difficult.

"We have tremendous respect for Charles and what he has meant to the franchise," Grunfeld said. "It was a difficult thing to do because of what he has meant to the franchise. You have very strong feelings. We grew up together and we've been through a lot of battles together. It's never easy to part with someone of his character."

Still, Grunfeld said Camby's potential made it impossible to ignore the deal.

"This was an opportunity to get youth and get more athletic," he said. "You always make changes. You always explore opportunities and options to improve for the short term and the long term. This came about fairly quickly and a player of his potential doesn't come along that often."

Camby led the league with 3.65 blocks per game last season and averaged 12.1 points and 7.4 rebounds. But injuries limited him to 63 games in each of his first two NBA seasons.

Oakley averaged 9.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Knicks last season.

Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy called Oakley "a huge factor" in the Knicks success over his 10 seasons in New York.

"I think he'll go down as one of the great Knicks," he said. "That tells you how highly we feel about Marcus Camby, as well.

"When guys put it on the line for you and play as hard as Charles did for our team, you feel great sentimental thoughts about the guy. I owe Charles Oakley a whole lot."

Van Gundy said he hadn't thought about how the loss of Oakley, a 6-foot-9 power forward and the addition of the 6-11 Camby would affect his lineup. "I think Camby's a power forward in a different body," he said. "We have to see how to best take advantage of his talent."

As part of the deal, the Knicks agreed to pick up part of the $10 million balloon payment Oakley is due to receive next season. Grunfeld refused to disclose the financial details.

Oakley's gritty play often has led to hard fouls and discipline by the NBA. With him headed to another team, Van Gundy noted that reputation.

"I want to make it clear," he said, "Charles Oakley does flagrantly foul now."

Knicks Deal Oak For Camby
By Kevin Kernan, The New York Post, 6/25/98

The draft is a time of change and last night the Knicks made a big one, trading Charles Oakley, the heart and soul of the team the last decade, to Toronto for Marcus Camby, a sought-after talent who has yet to fulfill his potential. The deal wasnot yet official by early this morning but that was only because the Knicks were not able to reach Oakley. Toronto sources said such a deal was done.

"We will have an announcement tomorrow," Knicks president and GM Ernie Grunfeld said at the Garden in the wee hours of this morning. "We can't announce anything officially yet until all parties involved have been contacted, which they have not been. We've been unable to contact the players involved in this situation. When we do, we will make a formal announcement."

Oakley, who defined the power forward position for the Knicks, has been on the trading block the last few weeks and has been offered to several teams, including the Lakers and Wizards. John Starks figures to be the next Knick vet traded. Oakley also was one of the team leaders who backed up his words with tough play. It's believed the Knicks also sent their second pick last night, 6-10 forward Sean Marks, to the Raptors and will pick up a big part of Oakley's $10 million salary next season.

The Knicks could decide to keep Camby or use him as a trading chip. Camby is only 24, 10 years younger than Oakley, and gives the Knicks tremendous shot-blocking and a frontcourt presence that will not get in Patrick Ewing's way. If they decide to trade Camby, they might be able to get the point guard they covet, Milwaukee's Terrell Brandon. Toronto also could turn around and trade Oakley to a contender like the Lakers or Bulls.

Camby's 230 blocks led the NBA and was a 3.65 per game average. Camby, the second overall pick of the 1996 draft, had just 48 fewer blocks than the entire Knick team last season. Camby is a free agent after this coming season and the Raptors did not want to get in a Damon Stoudamire situation with him.

Oakley did not return phone calls last night.

In his 10th season with the Knicks and 13th in the NBA, Oakley averaged 9.0 points and led the team in rebounding with 506 as he played power forward and center because of Ewing's injury. Oakley has been the ultimate team player, taking or giving the hard foul, and was well-respected by his teammates.

In the draft, the Knicks came up with two forwards, the first forward selected was DeMarco Johnson, the 38th selection overall.

The trade was possible financially because the deal was made before July 1. Oakley made $2.8 million this past season while Camby was in the $2.7 million range. Camby is a free agent after next season and the Knicks love Camby"s shot-blocking ability and potential. He has been considered a soft player, however, and has to grow up quickly. The move also means more time at power forward for Larry Johnson.

Considering Chris Childs is the only point guard under contract, the Knicks are in the sorriest of states at that position.

The trade bait the Knicks have offered around the league includes Childs, who has four years and $17.7 million left on his contract; Chris Mills, a stunning six years at $30.6 million and Garden favorite Starks, two years left at $8 million.

The point guard the Knicks love - other than Minnesota's Stephon Marbury - is Milwaukee"s Brandon, who will price himself out of the small-market Bucks' pocket when he becomes a free agent after next season. But things are so desperate the Knicks may even deal for Cleveland's Bob Sura. The Knicks also liked North Carolina point guard Shammond Williams, who went to the Bulls in the second round, five picks ahead of the Knicks.

Grunfeld was happy to land Johnson. "We never thought he'd be there," Grunfeld said. "We had him going in the late first round."

Johnson is 6-8 and weighs 245, out of North Carolina-Charlotte. He averaged 21.1 points last season and was impressive in the Chicago camp. He finished third in Conference USA in scoring and first in rebounding and can stretch defenses with his outside shot and hit 18 of 50 three-point shots last season. With their other pick, the Knicks selected Marks at 44. Marks is 6-10, 250 and a late bloomer from Auckland, New Zealand. He averaged 9.8 points.

Oak Traded To Toronto
Knicks Get Camby
By Frank Isola, The New York Daily News Sports Writer, 6/25/98

The Knicks have finally gotten younger and more athletic - and all it cost them was having the heart and soul of their team ripped out.

Charles Oakley, who as much as anyone symbolized the rugged Knicks teams over the past 10 years, has been traded to Toronto in exchange for 24-year-old Marcus Camby, a promising player with a recent history of off-the-court troubles.

Toronto officials last night confirmed the deal has been finalized. Knicks team president Ernie Grunfeld said an announcement will be made today, but refused to discuss specifics.

"We can't announce anything official until the parties involved have been contacted," said Grunfeld, who has yet to speak with Oakley.

Sean Marks, a 6-10 center from Cal whom the Knicks selected with the 44th pick in the NBA draft last night, is also believed to be included in the deal. The Knicks intend to hang onto DeMarco Johnson, a 6-9 power forward from UNC-Charlotte who was taken 38th.

The 6-11 Camby, the second overall pick of the 1996 draft, will play small forward, pushing Larry Johnson back to his natural position of power forward.

Camby averaged 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and led the league in average blocks per game with 3.65 last season for the Raptors. He has played in 63 games in each of his first two seasons.

The deal with Toronto makes sense for the Knicks since Oakley will turn 35 next season and is scheduled to earn $10 million. Camby is eligible for free agency next summer.

However, by losing Oakley, an immensely popular player, the Knicks are sacrificing a considerable amount of toughness and experience. Buck Williams often said Oakley "has the heart of a lion," and even though his rebounding numbers declined in recent years, Oakley was still regarded as one of the league's most intimidating players.

The risk for the Knicks is whether Johnson, an undersized power forward at 6-7, can be enough of a rebounding force. Last season, he averaged 5.7 rebounds and has averaged eight rebounds per game only once over the last four years.

Despite his size, Camby prefers to play on the perimeter and is more of a finesse player than a banger. At the same time, he adds skills the Knicks have lacked in recent years - quickness and explosiveness.

Camby, who was rumored to be headed to the Nets where he would have been reunited with his UMass coach, John Calipari, comes to the Knicks with some baggage. Last June, he was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. Those charges later were dropped.

Also, Camby violated NCAA rules when he was found to have received cash and gifts from an agent while still a student at UMass.

The Knicks, who now have made four trades with the Raptors in three years, were talking with Toronto about Camby last season. That the Raptors would be interested in Oakley seems odd when you consider his age and that he'll become a free agent next summer.

There is a strong possibility that Toronto may look to deal Oakley to a contending team, prehaps the Lakers or Sonics. Oakley may be on the downside of his career, but is a fierce competitor and dedicated professional who always plays hurt. No player practiced or played harder than Oakley.

He has appeared in more playoff games than any Knick in franchise history. Among current Knicks, only Patrick Ewing has spent more seasons with the club than Oakley.

Oakley averaged nine points and 9.2 rebounds last season, his 10th in New York. One of his most memorable performances came in Game 5 against Miami when he scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes.

Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld was eager to make a move, particularly for a point guard. However, the majority of NBA teams had little interest in the three players the Knicks were pushing the hardest: Chris Childs, Chris Mills and John Starks. Grunfeld is still hoping to work out a deal for Milwaukee point guard Terrell Brandon.

Raptors toughen up
Draft, trade gives Raps the players they wanted
By Doug Smith, The Toronto Star Sports Reporter, 6/25/98

VANCOUVER - The Raptors are about to get tougher, older, meaner and better after an extraordinary evening.

Not only did they get the man they wanted in the NBA draft - North Carolina swingman Vince Carter - they are poised to add punishing rebounder Charles Oakley in a deal that would send inconsistent forward Marcus Camby to the New York Nets.

The blockbuster deal, which could be announced this afternoon, is on hold until the principles pass physical examinations. Toronto also gets University of California centre Shawn Marks, drafted 44th last night, and cash.

The Raps also picked Rhode Island point guard Tyson Wheeler with the 47th selection last night.

The Oakley deal would give Toronto a 12-year veteran with more than 10,000 career rebounds and a reputation as one of the toughest players in the game. The 34-year-old Oakley is also entering the final year of a seven-year contract that includes an $8 million payment this year but Toronto has room under the salary cap to accommodate him.

At 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Oakley is a perfect compliment for 7-footer Kevin Willis, who Raptor GM Glen Grunwald obtained about two weeks ago.

``I view Oakley as Mark Messier,'' said Raptors coach Butch Carter. ``He will be a presence when he walks into a locker room.''

The deal also eases pressure that might have been applied to the Raptors after an expected lockout this summer. Instead of having to rush to fill spots whenever that lockout ends, the Raps will be able to start moving as soon as it's okay.

After a terrible 16-66 season in which they were the worst rebounding team in the league, Toronto gets some much needed help up front.

And Grunwald took care of any scoring needs with his ultimate acquisition of Carter, a 6-foot-7 athletically gifted forward from North Carolina.

Even that deal came after some intrigue.

Originally, the Raptors drafted North Carolina's Antawn Jamison, only to have the Golden State Warriors take Carter at No. 5. The teams then swapped picks with some money coming from California to Canada.

That was done because the Raptors threatened to swap with Dallas at No. 6, with the Mavs then taking Jamison. The Warriors wanted Jamison and were willing to ante up to get him.

It also saves Toronto at least $650,000 in salary over the life of Carter's deal. Under the current labour agreement, the No. 4 slot earns $6.696 million for three years; No. 5 gets $6.063. And that's likely to change after the expected summer lockout hits.

Despite the financial shenanigans, Carter was Toronto's choice all along.

``We're excited about getting Carter, he has the best potential in the draft behind (No. 1 pick Michael) Olowokandi,'' said Grunwald. ``He's going to play (small forward or shooting guard) and that gives us a good combination with Doug Christie and Tracy McGrady.''

Carter, a distant cousin of McGrady, says he and his new teenage teammate can work well together, despite having to share playing minutes.

``I haven't talked to him but I know he's probably jumping up and down and happier than anyone in the world,'' said Carter. ``We won't take it (the battle for time) personally. Maybe we can play at the same time sometimes.''

Coach Carter said he sees playing Carter up front.

``I'm more confident in him as a small forward right now,'' the coach said.

As well, Carter's presence will serve to force McGrady and Christie to keep improving. For a coach, there's nothing like depth to use as a carrot dangling in front of players.

In his three years at North Carolina, Carter didn't lose anywhere near the number of games that Toronto lost last season. He's not worried about that.

``We're going to turn this thing around, I hope we won't be in the lottery next year,'' the native of Daytona Beach, Fla., said. ``I bring a confidence and a good attitude. I want to win.''

But for about 10 minutes, Carter thought he'd be a Warrior. He was told about the deal while doing a television interview, wearing his Golden State hat. He and Jamison were quickly shuffled back to the podium where they switched lids.

``It's amazing to go from the West Coast to the East Coast in five minutes,'' he said. ``It was pretty wild.''

In getting rid of Camby, who was entering the final year of his deal, the Raptors divest themselves of a player who they thought was disappointing despite leading the league in blocked shots last year.

Camby, 24, missed 38 games in his two seasons in Toronto. He did manage to average 12.1 points and 7.4 rebounds. Oakley averaged 9.0 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Knicks.

Will Big Apple nourish Camby?
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 6/26/98

Years from now, basketball historians will look at June 25, 1998 as the most significant day in the career of Marcus Camby.

After just two years in the NBA, the former University of Massachusetts star was traded from the Raptors to the New York Knicks for Charles Oakley, i.e. from the basketball Hades that is Toronto to the sport's biggest stage in the world.

Whether the outcome of Thursday's events is positive or negative remains to be seen.

When the Raptors selected Camby in 1996, the situation seemed ideal for the 6-foot-11 forward/center. While Toronto's basketball fan base was scant, the Raptors were blessed with the well-respected Isiah Thomas making personnel decisions and point guard Damon Stoudamire, fresh off a Rookie of the Year campaign as the Raptors' floor general.

Sitting in the draft-day interview room at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Camby mused that he and Stoudamire might become the next Karl Malone and John Stockton.

That dream didn't materialize and instead, a once promising franchise became L.A. Clippers-East, the laughingstock of the league.

A personality conflict sent Thomas to NBC and disenchanted Stoudamire, who was later dealt to Portland.

With cold weather and seemingly no commitment to winning, Toronto might as well have been Vladivostok in the eyes of free agents. For current Raptors, a ticket to any team except the Clippers is welcomed with open arms.

From a basketball standpoint, Camby should be elated. He joins a team that in a post-Michael NBA is a legitimate contender for a championship.

With a presumably healthy Patrick Ewing on the roster Camby won't be expected to play much center, a position that his lanky build is miserably suited for.

Camby also could benefit from the maturity and steadying influence of Ewing, who has steadied the unpredictable John Starks and other young New York players.

The Knicks have an interesting situation at forward. Despite being short by power-forward standards, Larry Johnson can rebound and bang inside. Sharing the floor with him will allow Camby to take advantage of his athletic ability, operating as a floater and facing the basket.

The Knicks get younger, which they sorely needed to do, and in Camby they add a second-year player who led the league in blocked shots a year ago.

If Camby is successful, his potential to gain endorsement money increases exponentially.

However, it won't be easy for Camby to thrive in the Big Apple. For starters, he is replacing a very popular Knick in Charles Oakley, one who has embodied the style of that franchise for most of the decade.

It will take Tony from Nyack and the rest of the rabid WFAN callers a while to accept the style of a player who has less grit in his whole body than Oakley did in his eyebrows.

The bloodthirsty New York media isn't likely to afford the sensitive Camby many breaks, either. With a past that has included NCAA violations and other allegations of wrongdoing, the tabloids will be waiting to make Camby a snappy 200-point backpage headline.

There is no official statistic for trips to the disabled list, but if there were, Camby would be battling chronically ailing Celtic Pervis Ellison for a high spot on that roster. That trait won't endear Camby to fans.

If Camby can add some mental toughness and resistance to injury, he could be the toast of a town that loves winners. If not, he will be forced to live with a lifetime of comparisons to Benoit Benjamin, another promising but immensely underachieving NBA big man.

Camby can't wait to play for Knicks
By Richard Rosenblatt, The Associated Press, 6/26/98

NEW YORK -- A chance to playing on the same frontline with Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson has Marcus Camby feeling pretty good about the trade that brought him to the New York Knicks.

"I love the situation I'm in," Camby said Friday, a day after the Toronto Raptors sent him to the Knicks for Charles Oakley, draft pick Sean Marks and $5 million. "I never thought I'd be traded from Toronto. Actually, I'm in shock, still."

Camby, 6-foot-11 and 225 pounds, will never replace the rough-and-tumble style of Oakley, but his fresh legs could add a new dimension to the aging Knicks.

"Playing physical is not my strength, but I bring something different, a lot of running, get it up court and make some easy buckets," Camby said. "I think I can fit in."

In an effort to put some power into Camby's game, the Knicks already have him in a conditioning program. By the time next season begins, Camby could end up at small forward, with Johnson moving to power forward.

"I'm not really worried about pounds," he said. "I'll get the best conditioning to get the best out of me."

Camby said coach Jeff Van Gundy told him to be prepared to shoot.

"He wants me to work on my outside shot and make sure it's consistent, and maybe step out a little more," Camby said.

What Camby won't do is make people forget about Oakley.

"No one can replace Oak," the 24-year-old Camby said. "He was the heart and soul and team leader. I play different positions. I bring versatility. We'll take it one day at a time and focus on winning, that's what I'm about."

Last season with the Raptors, Camby led the NBA with 230 blocked shots, but his scoring averge dipped to 12.1 points per game on 41 percent shooting from the field. He's a 61 percent free-throw shooter. In his rookie year, Camby averaged 14.8 points.

He also missed 38 games over his first two seasons -- 19 each year -- with ankle and foot injuries. But Camby isn't worried about the Knicks' tough playing style.

"I have a clean slate this season," he said. "The past is the past and this is a new and better situation."

While Camby didn't expect to be traded, he heard rumblings about a trade to the New Jersey Nets, which would have reunited him with former UMass coach John Calipari.

Additional resources

Marcus Camby's playerfile from

Charles Oakley's playerfile from

Raptors team page

Knicks team page

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