A week ago it appeared to be a lock that the New York Knicks would match the Rockets offer sheet to Jeremy Lin. Late Saturday, reports now indicate that the Knicks have decided to go with a cheaper option and have acquired Raymond Felton in a sign and trade deal with the Portland Trailblazers.
This doesn't mean 100% that the Knicks won't match, but it looks very unlikely at this point. From a purely on the court angle, I think trading for Felton instead of matching the Rockets offer to Lin would be a great decision for the Knicks. Felton averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists last season, very close to what Lin will likely average over a full season, so getting him at a discounted rate by comparison makes sense. However, with Lin it's not just about on the court, purely by the numbers I don't think he's worth the money being offered, but in New York, the buzz and boost in marketing he can provide should more than make up the difference.
The Knicks may still match Jeremy Lin's offer. The Raymond Felton acquisition was unexpected, but Lin returning is still a possibility.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 15, 2012
Jeremy Lin clock did eventually, officially start tonight after all the, uh, delays. NYK have until 11:59 PM TUES to match on Lin. Or pass— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 15, 2012
The Knicks know all this though, so why the change of mind? Apparently the Rockets have put a kind of poison pill in the contract like they did with Omer Asik that backloads the contract, making the third year worth $15 million.
Luxury tax team NYK fear of matching Lin deal understandable when 3rd year of tough to trade contract would cost $15 million,source tells Y!— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 15, 2012
If the money was spread out evenly at roughly 9 million per year, I have no doubt the Knicks would match. However, luxury tax penalties are much more severe under the new CBA, and with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire already under contract; paying $15 million to Lin appears to be too rich for the Knicks. So what does this mean for the Rockets? It means they finally have a point guard to distribute the ball to their three dozen forwards. As I've stated before, I think the deal is a bad idea. Lin played really well over about a two week stretch, but is two weeks worth roughly 27 million?
One way this could work, if the Rockets are able to pull off the rumored Dwight Howard trade, he and Lin could make an excellent pick and roll duo. Lin had turnover problems and was inconsistent as a shooter, but one thing he did do well consistently was run the pick and roll with Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Lin does an excellent job at keeping his dribble alive and seems to have a good sense of when to be aggressive. However, another reason not to like this deal for the Rockets, Lin put up those good numbers in Mike D'Antoni's system, playing the role of Steve Nash. I'm not sure what McHale has in mind, but they run nothing close to the offense that Lin was successful in. Everyone over-pays in free-agency, but still think this was a bad move Houston. Over a full season Lin will probably average about 13 points, 5 assists, and 4 turnovers; not worth the money being offered.