Portland Trail Blazers' Marcus Camby (23) reacts at the start...

Portland Trail Blazers' Marcus Camby (23) reacts at the start of the first quarter. (Jan. 8, 2012) Credit: AP

LAS VEGAS -- The Knicks met with Marcus Camby Sunday in Houston and hoped to return to New York with an agreement with the veteran center.

A league source said the Knicks and Nets have been the most aggressive teams chasing Camby. According to one report, those two teams are considered the frontrunners to land the 38-year-old in a sign-and-trade with Houston. But the Nets also were trying to land a younger big man, Dwight Howard, and that likely would use up many of the assets needed for Camby.

Neither the Knicks nor Nets have much to offer him without a sign-and-trade. The Knicks are expected to use the $3.09-million taxpayer midlevel on Jason Kidd and the Nets will give theirs to European forward Mirza Teletovic.

The Heat also was in the mix for Camby. But after giving the mini-midlevel to Ray Allen, Miami would need to do a sign-and-trade for him. The Spurs and Mavericks also have expressed interest.

The Knicks have four players with deals that expire after the upcoming season: Toney Douglas, Dan Gadzuric, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan. They also have Renaldo Balkman's expiring contract on their payroll and up to $3 million they can include in trades. But they wouldn't part with all of that for Camby. The Knicks would like to use those assets to make multiple deals for veterans (perhaps Randy Foye) through sign-and-trades and then fill out their roster by inking players to minimum contracts.

Camby would provide rebounding, shot-blocking and a defensive presence off the bench. He played with the Knicks from 1999-2002 and helped them reach the 1999 NBA Finals. He has career averages of 9.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He spent six seasons playing with Carmelo Anthony in Denver, and Anthony said he planned to call Camby to recruit him.

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