Raymond Felton Is a Good Alternative for Knicks to Expensive Jeremy Lin

Thomas Kelly@tkflash4Contributor IIIJuly 15, 2012

Amare played his best basketball with Felton running the point.
Amare played his best basketball with Felton running the point.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

According to Ian Begley of ESPN, The Knicks have decided to trade for Portland's Ray Felton.

The trade will also bring Kurt Thomas to New York, with Jared Jeffries and Dan Gadzurik moving to Portland. 

Regarding the Knicks point guard situation, I think this a smart move as opposed to matching Houston's offer sheet of Lin.

According to Begley, the structure of the Rockets offer sheet requires the Knicks to pay $14.8 million for Lin in his third year, generating financial concern for New York. By matching that deal, the Knicks would have $75 million tied up in salaries in the 2014-2015 season. That would be poor timing considering the new collective bargaining agreement has serious luxury tax penalties starting that season. 

Furthermore, ESPN.com is reporting that one source in the Knicks' organization told Stephen A. Smith that the Knicks will not match the Rockets offer sheet for Lin.

If they do not match the offer, New York instead takes on a cheap contract in a sign and trade with Felton. The fact that Jason Kidd is also in New York to spell Felton is now a bonus.

Granted, Ian Begley of ESPN also just reported that Kidd was arrested for driving under the influence. He was released Sunday morning. Hopefully for Kidd and the Knicks, this is just a blip on the radar. His veteran presence and leadership would help the team.  

Felton had a decent lockout-shortened year in Portland, averaging 11 points and close to 7 assists a game. However, he also played the entire year. We still have not seen an entire season from Jeremy Lin. Also, Felton was a Knick just two years ago, averaging 17 points and 9 assists. He played extremely well in the pick and roll game with Amare Stoudemire and really excelled in his short time in New York.

With chemistry problems between Amare and Lin, this may be just what New York needs. Felton excelled in pick and roll and pick and pop play that year in New York. Lin often looked too much to create his own shot and went into isolation mode. When you have big men like Amare and Tyson that can really attack the basket coming off pick and roll situations, it makes sense to have Kidd and Felton running the point.

Lin turned the ball over too much last year, averaging 6.4 turnovers per 48 minutes, highest of any point guard in the league that played over 30 games. Kidd and Felton both do a better job protecting the ball. This is important, because the Knicks' other offensive options need the ball as much as possible to be effective.

John Hollinger's player efficiency ratings, courtesy of ESPN, show that Kidd and Felton can be better playmaking, and turnover-adverse options.

Assist Ratio (rank among qualifying point guards)

Kidd: 41.2 (5)

Felton: 31.0 (9)

Lin: 26.8 (34)

Turnover Ratio:

Lin: 15.6 (10)

Kidd: 14.2 (13)

Felton: 13.5 (20)

Kidd and Felton have phenomenal assist ratios, while not having as high of a turnover ratio as Lin. This shows they are more efficient passers and also take care of the basketball more so than Lin.

Having a point guard who is capable of playing the pick and roll style, rather than being higher volume player like Lin, makes sense for New York. Carmelo and Amare need their touches. Shumpert is developing his own offensive game and JR Smith needs his shots too.

Moreover, Chandler showed improvements on the offensive end last year. Chandler shot a career high 68% while averaging 11.3 points a game last year. The key for the point guard is to get all these guys going, and also get their own shot at times.

A combination of Felton at lead guard with Kidd off the bench is perfect for this. 

While this is a certainly a beneficial move for New York financially, it is also a smart basketball move.