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NBA Rumors: An Idiot's Guide to the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin Dilemma

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

NBA Rumors: An Idiot's Guide to the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin Dilemma

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    Jeremy Lin is going to know where he's playing for the 2012-2013 season soon enough, and Linsanity will live on for either the Houston Rockets or New York Knicks

    You might have seen the Rockets' offer sheet referenced quite often in recent articles, but chances are, you haven't seen a full breakdown of why the Knicks are taking a while to make a decision. 

    I promise I'm not calling you an idiot, but here's the idiot's guide to the Knicks' Jeremy Lin dilemma. 

The Contract

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    Jeremy Lin has already accepted the Houston Rockets' offer sheet. As a restricted free agent, Lin has the right to agree to terms with any of the 30 teams in the NBA, but the New York Knicks have the right to match the offer. 

    Because Lin signed the offer sheet on Saturday, the designated three-day window for the Knicks to match the offer ends on Tuesday night right before midnight. 

    The Rockets' offer spans three years and is worth $25.1 million. 

    While the first year of the deal is worth "just" $5 million, the price jumps up to $5.225 million in the second year and skyrockets to $14.8 million in the final year. Houston backloaded the deal to make it even harder for the Knicks to match. 

Other Point Guards

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    The New York Knicks now have two other NBA-caliber point guards on the roster for the next three years. 

    Originally brought in with the plan of mentoring Jeremy Lin firmly in mind, Jason Kidd signed a three-year deal with the Knicks for $9 million. Then, he promptly got arrested on suspicion of a DWI, but that's not entirely relevant here because he'll still be playing for the team. 

    Raymond Felton was also signed to a three-year deal by the Knicks, this time for $10 million. 

    Although Felton was largely (pun intended) disappointing for the Portland Trail Blazers, he remains a starting-caliber point guard in this league. He should be handed the starting job in The Big Apple. 

    Even though he's one of the oldest players in the NBA, Kidd still remains a capable backup as well. 

    Point guard really isn't a need for the Knicks at this point. 

Finances

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    The backloaded contract is what's making the New York Knicks think twice about retaining the services of Jeremy Lin. 

    According to ESPN's Ian Begley: 

     If the Knicks were to match the offer, they would also be subject to a luxury tax in the third year, potentially bringing their total out-of-pocket cost for Lin to about $43 million in 2014-15.

    The following contract information comes from Spotrac, a sports contract database. 

    For the 2014-2015 season, the Knicks have a ton of money committed to just three players (assuming Carmelo Anthony exercises his player option). 

    With Anthony on the books for $22,626,567, Amar'e Stoudemire for $23,410,988 and Tyson Chandler for $14,596,888, the Knicks would have over $75 million committed to four players in 2014-2015 if Lin is brought back. 

    Add in the salaries of Steve Novak ($3.5 million), Marcus Camby ($4 million), Iman Shumpert ($2.6 million), Jason Kidd ($3 million) and Raymond Felton (roughly $3 million) and the Knicks are just about out of money. 

How Good Is Lin?

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    Another question running through the minds of the New York Knicks' big shots concerns how good Jeremy Lin actually is. 

    Is he an elite point guard? An upper-level starter? A decent starter? A bench warmer? 

    No one has been able to correctly predict the career of Lin, but here goes nothing. 

    Lin will never be a truly elite point guard—I'm talking Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving level—but he can fall just under that tier of players. 

    During his 25 starts this past season, Lin managed to average 18.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 0.3 blocks and 2.0 steals per game. He was a tremendous facilitator and a more-than-capable scorer. 

    A lot of people will knock Lin for his perceived turnover problem. While he does need to be more careful with the ball, the problem is largely overblown. 

    Despite his small sample size, Lin is no flash in the pan. He's going to make it in this league as an upper-level starter. 

    He'll certainly be better than both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he's worth the money. 

    Lin also has an insane amount of marketability off the court, which has to factor into the decision as well. 

The Decision

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    The signing of Raymond Felton should force the Knicks' hand here. 

    Despite the fact that he's going to be a solid point guard for a long time in The Association, he's too expensive in the third year of his proposed contract for the Knicks to invest in him. 

    Keeping Felton and Jason Kidd as the primary members of the point guard rotation will allow Glen Grunwald and the Knicks brass to pursue other players that actually fill needs in the future. 

    As painful as it may be for Knicks fans and members of the organization to see the gem they unearthed play in another jersey, the team must let Lin walk away to the Houston Rockets in order to secure their own future. 

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