NBA Free Agents 2012: Will Knicks Pay Jeremy Lin After Whiffing on Steve Nash?

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks and Team Shaq looks as he walks off the court after the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With Jason Kidd on his way to the New York Knicks, one might wonder what James Dolan ultimately intends to do about his point guard situation.

NYC made a run at Steve Nash to no avail, and the organization is now in jeopardy of losing rising star Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets according to David Aldridge:

Source confirms Rockets have committed a 4 yr, $30M sheet to NYK guard Jeremy Lin. NY will have 3 days to match when moratorium ends next wk

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 5, 2012

Ordinarily, it would seem like a no-brainer for the Knicks to match that offer and retain the man who stole all the headlines in 2012. 

The only wrinkle in this instance is that the Houston Rockets have made the last two years of Lin's four-year offer an estimated $10 million a piece. That wouldn't be prohibitively expensive on face, but it's a lot of money for a team that's already way over budget.

Nevertheless, according to Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick, the Knicks are indeed expected to pay up:

With Jason Kidd shocking Mavs and opting for NY, source says Knicks still expected to match Jeremy Lin offer sheets. They want 1-2 PG punch.

— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 5, 2012

Whether they actually should is a far question.

But, who are we kidding?

New York needs Lin as much for his marketable celebrity as his on-court prowess. That shouldn't take anything away from what kind of point guard he is–it's just a reminder that the 23-year-old can make this franchise a whole lot of money.

And yes, even after you deduct a clean $30 mil from the equation.

Research has suggested he's already more popular than Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and there's never been any question about how much money those kind of guys are worth to an organization.

From merchandise sales to television broadcasting deals, celebrity matters. It matters all the more so in a place like New York.

Of course, the Knicks also need Lin for a few basketball reasons. He's the best-available point guard on the free-agent market, and he's already had time to adjust to the Knicks' system. More importantly, we know his teammates like him, and that goes a long way on a squad that hasn't been known for its chemistry.

The book on Lin is well-known. He's a solid defender, and he can score from all over the floor. 

He's still a work-in-progress, but he's already progressed quite a bit. 

The final cost-benefit-analysis probably indicates that $30 million is a bargain for a guy like this. Even if New York wanted to go after a guy like Chris Paul next summer, it would need to orchestrate a sign-and-trade deal to do so on account of its non-existent cap space.

It's a bit soon to label Lin trade bait, but he's a better asset than just about anyone else on this roster.

Will New York match Houston's offer? Of course. Why would they stop spending now?

Should they?

You better believe it.