Jeremy Lin Rumors: Houston Rockets Must Pay Steeper Price

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 11, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 29:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks drives against Alonzo Gee #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2012 in New York City. 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 Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Rumors are swirling that the New York Knicks will match the Houston Rockets' alleged offer to point guard Jeremy Lin.

According to the Sports Xchange and multiple other sources, that is indeed the case.

Therefore, the Rockets either need to up the ante in the next few days by offering Lin more money or pull out of the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes.

With three first-round draft picks in the fold from a very talented and deep class, the Rockets have plenty of assets at their disposal. However, they shouldn't be used on Howard.

A strong team nucleus can be built on the current foundation, but giving up either Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, or Terrence Jones would probably be required in order to land the big man.

Those three players have the potential to fill significant needs on the roster, and there are valuable centers left in free agency, particularly former Boston Celtic, Greg Stiemsma.

Having a point guard who can run the show in today's increasingly perimeter-oriented NBA is more important, especially since the position is so deep in the league.

Many teams are fielding great point guards who are changing the way the game is played with their athleticism and oftentimes their scoring ability.

For example, let's say you wanted to build a team. Assume the top three centers in the league are Howard, Andrew Bynum, and Marc Gasol. For argument's sake, assume the top three point guards are Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Chris Paul.

If you can sit there and convince me that you'd build a team beginning with any of the center trio over any of the second three, I commend you.

I understand, in this case, we're talking about a top-two center versus a fringe top-10 point guard.

However, considering the state of the NBA game and the relative value of Lin if he is consistently Linsane, point guard should definitely be a priority position over center.

Thanks to a trade that shipped Kyle Lowry to Toronto and Goran Dragic bolting to sign with the Phoenix Suns for a second time, the Rockets are suddenly handcuffed at a vital position.

The Rockets have the cap room in the next two years for a huge contract, which is why they offered Lin a backloaded deal, according to ESPN.

The way the Knicks' cap is set up is forces them to pay both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire more money over the next two seasons, approximately $23 million apiece.

This dilemma for New York gives the Rockets a lot of leverage.

The Knicks will have to make decisions in 2013-14 on Stoudemire and Anthony, when the luxury tax on being over the salary cap drastically increases.

One intriguing alternative scenario would be to essentially swap point guards with Phoenix.

With Dragic heading there, former Rocket Aaron Brooks has an opportunity to return to Houston as a free agent if Phoenix doesn't match the offer.

The move that seems to make the most sense is negotiating a sign-and-trade with the Knicks to alleviate some of their cap woes and also give them valuable young players, in order to land Lin.

At least, it seemed to make sense until the Rockets recently traded Marcus Camby to the Knicks in order to acquire more young assets for their team.

The sort-of-good news is that the Rockets landed a point guard in that trade. The bad news is that it wasn't Jeremy Lin.

It was Toney Douglas.

The current roster for the Rockets is so congested that they almost have to pull off a blockbuster trade. With all the talent they have, they don't have a surefire center or a point guard especially.

The musical chairs of point guards going on around the league between free agency and the draft is fascinating, but the Rockets can't seem to land one despite possessing many tradable assets.

If the Rockets truly wanted to make a play for Lin, they would have probably offered more money by now or withdrawn in the running for Howard.

The dream scenario would be that the Rockets aren't matched, and can sign Lin to the proposed four-year, $29 million contract.

Unfortunately, it appears the Knicks will nix the potential for Linsanity in Houston.