Portland had lost Greg Oden to another season ending injury and needed a better option behind Joel Pryzbilla other than undersized Jeff Pendergraph. The Thunder, who were last year’s biggest surprise in the NBA, needed a shot blocker that could help protect the paint. Nenad Kristic is a soft big man who prefers to play on the perimeter and Serge Ibaka was not ready for big time minutes in clutch time (ex. not blocking out Pau Gasol in game six of the playoffs against the Lakers).
When I heard that Camby was on the block I thought the Thunder, who were well under the salary cap, would swoop him up for a draft pick (they have quite an arsenal of them) and a mid-level player to round out their roster for the playoffs. Camby also could have been a mentor for young big man Serge Ibaka as he did with DeAndre Jordan.
In the end, Blazers' then-GM Kevin Pritchard made a bold move and acquired Camby and extended his contract. Camby is a perfect fit in Portland - he is a savvy veteran who doesn’t need the ball to be effective, is great rebounder, screener, and awesome teammate.
If OKC would have traded for Camby (they had more assets), they would have finished higher in the standings and avoided the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. This season, the Thunder are considered an elite team and are expected to make a lot of noise in the playoffs -- without ever having won a playoff series. When, or if, Oden comes back, Portland will have three quality bigs to match up with the Lakers size. Oklahoma City won't.
The Blazers and the Thunder are two of the top teams vying for the 2 seed in the West and Camby's presence could be the difference in playing the Lakers in the second round or the conference finals. Meanwhile, Donald Sterling’s Clippers are unlikely to make the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year, but he has dramatically affected the race for the Championship.