NBA Free Agency 2012: Where Do Knicks Go After Striking Out on Steve Nash?

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 15:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks at US Airways Center on February 15, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Hawks defeated the Suns 101-99. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Similar to the roller-coaster 2012 season the New York Knicks had, the beginning to the offseason has been filled with extreme highs directly followed by extreme lows.

In the span of hours, the Knicks looked like they could potentially have both Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin in their backcourt, only to watch Nash end up a Laker and Lin receive a backloaded offer from the Houston Rockets.

To most Knicks fans, it seems as if everyone around them is getting better, while the Knicks are getting worse by the day. With that being said, where do the Knicks go from here?

Priority No. 1 now must be to match any offer to Lin.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports on Twitter that the Rockets will offer Lin a backloaded deal that puts the Knicks in severe luxury tax problems three years from now should they match it.

Houston's multi-year offer to Jeremy Lin includes back-loaded money designed to hit the Knicks hard on luxury tax, source tells Y!

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 5, 2012

While that is something owner James Dolan doesn't want to do, he's legitimately out of options at this point.

It's a big risk, though. 

When the 2014-15 season rolls around, not only would the Knicks have four players in Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler all making over $14 million, but those four players alone would put the Knicks $2 million over the luxury tax line.

That's without the nine other players that will have to be in uniform on a nightly basis.

Then there's the obvious fact that committing over $30 million to a player who has started 25 NBA games makes very little sense from a basketball standpoint.

It may not be something you want to hear, but Lin is still an unproven commodity, and there's just as good of a chance that he flops as there is that he becomes a long-term success.

However, if the Knicks' plan is to go for it, then matching any offer for Lin is what they have to do.

They can clear cap space in three years if they have to, but that likely means another rebuilding process.

Next up, they need to sign Raymond Felton immediately.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports that the Knicks are the leading contender to sign Felton, and while it's not the popular option, they need to add a point guard to the roster.

Ideally Felton would be the veteran backup the Knicks are looking for, but if there is any chance that the Knicks don't match an offer to Lin, at least they will have a capable point guard in place.

After that, the rest of the Knicks' money needs to go towards a shooting guard, possibly bringing back J.R. Smith, and a big man who can come in and spell Chandler without it resulting in a huge drop-off at the defensive end.

I'm just speculating here, but a guy like Aaron Gray would fill that role nicely and could be had rather cheaply.

To say the Knicks' offseason hasn't gone according to plan is the understatement of the year, but there are still options out there. Now it's up to them to make it work.

Strike out in this round of free agency, and what once looked like a potentially deep team on paper could be worse than the 2012 team that ultimately lost in the first round of the playoffs.

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