The Knicks can thank the Houston Rockets for forcing them to spend more money than they expected in order to bring back Jeremy Lin, but New York would be best set to let last season's sensation go and chase former Knickerbocker Raymond Felton.
Felton has had a stellar career despite being bounced around from team to team, and he proved in his first tenure with New York that he's capable of being a major contributor.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the Knicks are actually front-runners to land one of the top remaining free agents.
Knicks have emerged as favorites to sign Raymond Felton, the Daily News has learned.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 5, 2012
Although Felton's tenure with the Knicks was short-lived, he dazzled and enjoyed his best production ever. He was only on the squad through the first 54 games of the 2010-11 season, but he started every game and averaged 17.1 points and nine assists—both career highs.
He was then a major piece in the deal to land Carmelo Anthony in the Big Apple, and he suffered by having to leave instead of being a facilitator and weapon for one of the league's top five scorers.
Lin showed last season that he's capable of being a top option on a team, but that team isn't located in New York. He'd be better set in a system where he can be a scorer first and a passer second, both things that last season's biggest story is very good at.
Felton would be better on this Knicks team.
Felton's arsenal of skills is similar to Lin's, but he has a more polished, experienced game, with 479 career starts. Plus, the acquisition of Jason Kidd (per ESPN) should immensely help the next starting point guard, giving him a very comfortable workload since Kidd is still playing at a high level.
If New York matches Houston's intense offer for Lin, they'd most likely have to spend more on the young, developing point guard through the back end of his contract. The Rockets' offer to Lin is for $10.2 million combined for the first two seasons but spikes to around $9 million for each of the last two, and Felton is coming off making $7.9 million per year on a contract that shouldn't need to be increased too much per-year.
Felton's driving method will be more beneficial to the complete team that the Knicks suddenly have. Even though Lin would make them a complete team, Felton gives them the best chance to become a menacing power in an Eastern Conference that's slowly becoming top-heavy.
Felton is one of the best economical decisions for his value in the entire league, and it just so happens that he's readily available to join the Knicks.
The Knicks can be happy when they look back at their epic 2011-12 season. Lin's success story was one of the biggest international story-lines of the year, and letting him go to Houston will spark his career more than remaining in New York would.
New York needs Felton's experience if they're going to become one of the best teams in the East and actually win a playoff series.