Jeremy Lin's Slow Start Justifies NY Knicks' Decision to Let Him Leave

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIDecember 17, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball upcourt against the Toronto Raptors at the Toyota Center on November 27, 2012 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The New York Knicks opted to let Jeremy Lin leave during the offseason and replaced him with Raymond Felton, and at this point it looks like the team clearly made the right decision. 

Lin has not been as productive or efficient as he was with the Knicks last season. His scoring average has dipped from 14.6 points per game in 2011-12 to 10.6 points through the first 23 contests of this year.

While he has been dishing out roughly the same amount of assists, he is shooting 39.5 percent from the floor after hitting 44.6 percent of his shots last season. Houston is 11-12 heading into a well-publicized showdown with the Knicks.

Lin will match up with Felton in this contest, and his replacement has outperformed him statistically across the board. Felton has averaged 16.3 points per game while recording 6.8 assists. He has shot just 40.3 percent from the field, but has been excellent from beyond the three-point line, hitting 40.6 percent of his long-range attempts.

While Lin has the necessary talent to develop into a better player than Felton, the Knicks’ roster did not need a project; it needed an inexpensive and productive veteran, and that is exactly what Felton has been.

The back-loaded contract Daryl Morey offered Lin in the offseason was a brilliant move as it not only made it extremely difficult for the Knicks to match, but it also allowed the Rockets to sign the young point guard at a fair price.

As ESPN’s Beckley Mason notes, Lin is making an average of $8.4 million per year, which is roughly the same as Goran Dragic, Rodney Stuckey and Devin Harris. The Rockets floor general certainly has the ability to outperform these players. 

However, the majority of Lin’s earnings will come when he makes nearly $15 million in the third year of his deal. Due to the inflated salary for this season, the Knicks would have lost a fortune in luxury tax penalties.

But the team has proven this year that it did not need to compromise itself financially to achieve exceptional results on the court. Felton and Jason Kidd have both played point guard effectively, and New York has the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Mason's article notes that Felton earns an average of $3.3 million per season.  

Lin is clearly going through a learning curve, which is entirely unsurprising considering that he has only started 48 games in his career. He will grow as a player, and his production will rise going forward. 

But the Knicks have their eye on a title this season, and established veterans are much more useful to the team than young, improving players. Letting Lin leave and replacing him with Felton was one of several wise offseason moves, and New York is seeing the benefits of its decisions.