By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit New York Writer, Manhattan, NY
The drama of the week here in New York was what to do with Jeremy Lin. The Rockets offered the restricted free agent a 3-year, $25 million dollar deal and it was up to the Knicks to match it. Three years at $25 million would be steep enough but the last year at $14.8 million is what made this a killer contract. The Knicks decided not to match the offer and will go with the duo of Raymond Felton and Hamptons party animal Jason Kidd. While I would have loved to see Lin stay on board I think the Knicks made the right decision and here’s why.
The third year of the contract
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose are the only point guards in the NBA this year that made more the $14.8 million. Is Jeremy Lin the 4th best point guard in the league? No. Will he be in 3 years? I doubt it, but maybe. Let’s for argument’s sake say he is. $14.8 million is not the total amount the Knicks would have to pay for Jeremy Lin. Because the Knicks already have Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler under contract, the Knicks would be in the luxury tax. After luxury tax fees the Knicks would have to pay $43 million to have Jeremy Lin on their roster in that third year. Will Lin be worth $43 million dollars? I cannot imagine how well he would have to play to deserve that.
Is Lin really that good?
Jeremy Lin was a great story last year. A guy who does not look the part, went to Harvard, and had already been cut twice in 2011-2012 took over the NBA for a few weeks. I would probably win an argument that “Linsanity” was the best story of the NBA regular season last year. He put up numbers in his first few games that no one has ever put up. He kept the Knicks alive when their star player was injured. He was able to put on a show night after night. But is Lin actually good? The small sample size makes it impossible to tell. He has only played 35 games in his career. Would you be willing to bet $43 million dollars (plus the $10 million he would get in the first 2 years of his contract) that Lin is the basketball player we saw for a few weeks? The Knicks did not think it was worth the gamble, I can’t blame them.
The Mike D’Antoni factor
Mike D’Antoni is known for being an offensive mastermind. His fast-paced offense is a point guard’s dream. Steve Nash elevated his game to the MVP level twice while playing in D’Antoni’s system. But to compare Lin to Nash would not be fair, even if Nash has never received $14.8 million in a year. A fair comparison would be Ray Felton, the same chubby guy who will replace Lin in New York this year. Both played for D’Antoni in New York for a short period of time. Most would say Lin is a better player then Felton; this isn’t a conversation if Felton is better, right? Who would you pick?
Numbers under Mike D’Antoni:
17.1 points per game, 9 assists, 3.6 rebounds 3.3 turnovers, 42.3 FG%, 32.8 3-PT%, 86.7 FT%
14.6 points per game, 6.2 assists, 3 rebounds, 3.6 turnovers, 44.6 FG%, 32.0 3-PT%, 79.8 FT%
I would assume most people are picking player 1. And the winner is Raymond Felton! Congrats Ray, go have yourself a piece of cake.
I cheered hard for Lin when he was going absolutely nuts earlier in the year. I watched the games I could (thanks Time Warner!) in legit disbelief waiting for the ride to end. And for a while it did not. I wish I could have watched Lin mesh with the Melo, Amar’e, Chandler core. But unfortunately the Rockets made an offer that could not be matched. The Knicks, for the first time in a long time, made a move that was not the flashiest. Three years from now we will know if this unpopular move was the right one.