As most major media outlets are reporting today, the New York Knicks are not planning to match Houston’s offer sheet for Jeremy Lin. Nearly every article today talks about what Lin’s acquisition does for Houston and how it hurts the Knicks; but could there be a longer-term plan in place from New York?
Whether or not the Knicks re-sign Lin, here’s one way the Knicks could profit by letting Lin walk.
It is widely agreed that Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony do not fit well together on the Knicks. Amar'e is currently the fourth highest paid player in the NBA. Over the next three years, he’s set to make: $19,948,799 (2012-13), $21,679,893 (2013-14) and $23,410,988 (2014-15).
Could Lin’s departure spell the end of the Amare Stoudemire era in New York?
The problem with trading Stoudemire is twofold.
First, he hasn’t produced as expected in the last year or two mostly due to injuries. Part of this stems from the Carmelo-centric philosophy adopted by the Knicks which naturally limits Stoudemire’s touches. Fair enough, but Amare has been injury prone and teams are afraid of assuming his huge contract and having to pay him if he gets hurt.
There may be a way, however, to trade Amare before the trade deadline in February.
The target? Christopher Emmanuel Paul.
Why would the Clippers agree to this trade? Let’s think about it.
If Chris Paul decides to leave the Clippers, where else would he agree to go and sign an extension? Nearly all the other desirable destinations (Miami, Boston, Chicago and Brooklyn) have already signed their superstars and have no more cap space. That leaves the Knicks as the one remaining place where he could go. Given that he wanted to team up with Carmelo all along, this seems like a dream scenario for him.
The Clippers won’t let Paul walk for nothing.
If they know he’s going to leave, they’ll trade him. Period. They could trade him to whatever team gives them the best package, but if he refuses to sign an extension with said team then they’re simply renting him for half a season.
Teams like Brooklyn and the Clippers can try something like that because they can always sell the marketing opportunities of the city. It’s a lot more dangerous for small market teams like Cleveland and Minnesota.
So let’s say he bullies his way to the Knicks. Why do the Clippers do it? First, they could play Amar'e at center and bring DeAndre Jordan off the bench. Amare has played center before, so this shouldn’t be a problem. He could make a dynamic frontcourt mate for Blake Griffin.
The drawback to all this is that he’s on the books for two more years after this trade. So, the Clippers would likely ask for more (picks or players) in order to compensate them for eating two additional years of Amar'e’s bloated contract.
As for the Knicks, they’d get the best pure point guard in the league. Though this would leave a big hole at the four for the Knicks, a team with Chris Paul, Melo and Tyson Chandler would form one of the better Big Threes in the league. The Knicks would have everything a team could want: a superstar point guard, a killer on the perimeter and a great defender and rebounder in the post. They’d have to find a long-term solution at PF, perhaps a solid pick and pop guy, similar to David West, but for far less money.
This of course is pure speculation.
All I am suggesting is that by not re-signing Lin, the Knicks may have a longer-term plan in mind. I know he’s a fan favorite and could develop into a great player in this league, but $28 million is an awful lot of money to commit to a guy based on four months of work. That’s a small sample size. If the Knicks get a championship out of it, no one will miss Linsanity. If they don’t, then the fans love affair with James Dolan (tongue-in-cheek) will continue.