Why Playing Baron Davis over Jeremy Lin Would Be Mike D'Antoni's Final Mistake

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 04:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw in the fourth quarter as Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics defends on March 4, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 115-111 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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There may be some controversy brewing in New York City over the point guard position. After Sunday's performance, there is some indication that things could be shaken up in crunch time, according to this excerpt from Newsday.

Jeremy Lin made some plays late in regulation that helped give the Knicks the lead Sunday. But he missed six of the seven shots he took in overtime and did little to prevent Rajon Rondo from doing whatever he wanted in the Knicks' loss.

Mike D'Antoni said he's sticking with Lin, but he didn't rule out using Baron Davis at the end of games when Lin struggles like that. "Maybe," he said. "We'll see. I'm comfortable going with Jeremy. I think at the end of games, Jeremy finds a way to be positive, and he was.

"Jeremy's going to finish games right now. He's going to start games. And then we'll see what happens as we go forward. But I'm comfortable with him."

So why would Mike D'Antoni and the Knicks even give a qualified answer like this? Why would you do anything other than give a "Jeremy Lin is absolutely my guy" response?

Jeremy Lin turned the ball over seven times against the Celtics, but so did Baron Davis. The difference is that Lin is learning and Davis is just getting older. Lin's problems will improve. Davis's wont.

The worst possible message D'Antoni needs to be sending to Lin right now is a message of doubt that says, potentially, "I don't believe in you."

D'Antoni needs to let Lin play through his mistakes—that's the only way he's going to learn. Lin, not Davis, is the point guard of the future for this team. 

D'Antoni's career is closely tied to the man who might have personally saved it. Destroying the confidence of that man by benching him could send the Knicks just as quickly back into mediocrity and end his time with the franchise.

It would be his final mistake.