The New York Knicks face a difficult decision when it comes to Jeremy Lin.
The backloaded offer sheet offered to him by the Houston Rockets puts the Knicks in quite the precarious position come 2014-15. New York will owe Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire a combined $62.4 million for that season.
Then, of course, there is the matter of somehow making room for other players.
While teams like the Knicks seem to be getting away with murder by paying a couple of superstars treasure troves of money while exploiting cap exceptions and sign-and-trades to fill out the roster, there is indeed a cost to this vicious cycle.
At some point, one of those superstars may actually get in the way of getting the guy who your team really needs.
In this case, that guy is quite obviously Lin.
His contract alone would push New York's obligations to nearly $80 million for just four players, a concern that may become a deal-breaker due to luxury tax implications and severely reduced roster mobility.
One of those players is a defensive specialist, and another isn't so special at all anymore.
According CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Knicks may look for some way to retain Lin given his significant value to the organization's financial bottom line:
But what Knicks management is said to be weighing, according to league sources, is Lin's enormous marketing value and whether enough players currently under contract could be traded before the third-year spike in Lin's contract hits.
The problem, of course, is that shedding any contracts of significance won't be easy. Chandler is overpaid for what he does, and Stoudemire is just plain overpaid.
If you had to choose, would you rather take 3 years of Lin or Stoudemire?
Find a team that would take on one of those contracts in exchange for deals ending in the next year or two won't be easy.
But, it can be gone. So long as teams like the Detroit Pistons have a guy like Joe Dumars running the show, it can be done.
You could sell this guy on virtually anything, much less acquiring a solid scoring big man in exchange for some mistakes that will come off the books a little sooner. After all, Stoudemire could ease the transition of Andre Drummond and add some star power to a roster that has absolutely none.
The deal needn't happen immediately. So long as it gets done before February's trade deadline, New York's future cap flexibility regains some semblance of normalcy–albeit it only a semblance.
The Pistons could build a package around Corey Maggette's expiring contract and Charlie Villanueva's deal, which expires a year later. Since he was recently acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats, Maggette can't be dealt with another player until late August.
If New York waited until next summer, they could potentially find a similar deal and give Lin and Stoudemire a year to pursue a title together.
If Stoudemire makes a significant contribution in the meantime, it might even become a bit easier to trade him when the time comes.
The Knicks don't have many options, but that doesn't mean they're entirely out of luck. With a little sacrifice and shrewd negotiating, Lin could be part of this team's future without entirely breaking the bank.