With point guard Raymond Felton on his way to New York via a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, evidence is mounting that the Knicks will not match the Houston Rockets‘ offer sheet to Jeremy Lin.
Team sources say the Knicks are still deliberating whether they can pay Lin more than $25 million over three years, but one source within the Knicks organization tells ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that the Knicks will not match the offer.
A team source tells ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley that the third year of the Rockets’ offer — worth $14.8 million — makes it unlikely the Knicks would match. If the Knicks were to match the offer, they would also be subject to a luxury tax in the third year, bringing their total out-of-pocket cost for Lin to approximately $30 million in 2014-2015.
After a curious roundabout in Vegas which ultimately resulted in the Rockets FedExing their offer sheet to the Knicks’ New York offices, the Knicks will have until 11:59PM on Tuesday to decide whether they want to bring back last year’s sensation.
It’s a shocking turn of events with New York having been expected up to this point to match any offer to Lin. After Houston restructured the deal, cutting out the fourth year and further stuffing the third, things became murky. The acquisition of Felton late Saturday night threw everything into the air.
There is still is some possibility of the Knicks matching and opting to use Lin in chunks at the ’2′, but for now, it appears that Linsanity is coming to Houston.
It’s a development I would warmly embrace perhaps not simply for his on-court production–its debatable whether Lin is better than Goran Dragic–but for the slight bit of relevance it would cast upon this franchise. For years now, since the fall of McGrady and Yao, it’s been general manager Daryl Morey who has been the face of the team, a slightly humorous circumstance which is now sure to change. If the Rockets even were to have gotten national television spots, one wondered who’s photo those networks would even slot in the preview promos.
Linsanity won’t be as big in Houston as it was in New York. Nothing ever is. But finally, again, there will at least be some degree of spotlight and curiosity towards the white and red.
What of Lin’s on-court abilities? I took the above clip last winter at Houston Rockets training camp and provided the accompanying analysis. The footage shows a player spotted no opportunities to run the team but making the most out of just being on the court.
As we know, things changed in New York as Lin was placed front in center at the head of the Knicks’ attack. As this TrueHoop peice explains, Lin delivered:
Of the 91 players with at leat 75 isolation plays last season, Jeremy Lin scored the third most points per play, trailing only Chris Paul and James Harden. And “of the 102 players who attempted at least 90 jumpers off the dribble, only Stephen Curry and Steve Nash shot a higher field goal percentage than Lin.”
The article goes on to conclude that Lin would be better off staying with New York:
No team had more isolation plays last season than the Knicks. Isolation plays accounted for 17 percent of the Knicks’ offense, the highest such percentage in the league.
The Rockets, meanwhile, ranked 22nd in isolation plays, which accounted for just 9 percent of their offense. The Knicks had nearly twice as many isolation plays as the Rockets.
While the argument holds merit, I beg to differ. What dictates that the Rockets would not alter their schemes to utilize the strengths of their personnel? Afterall, it isn’t as if Lin will be trying to fit in with a cemented cast – the entire team will be new.
Lin may not turn out to be the prodigy he seemed to be last year. But at his pricetag, at his age, on this roster with no incumbent general, the risk would seem to be worthwhile. At the least, the team will finally again have a player with some hint of big-time 1-on-1 scoring ability, a luxury (actually, a necessity in today’s age) they haven’t enjoyed since Tracy McGrady still had two functional legs.
If the Knicks decline to match, and Dwight Howard is reeled in as well next week, with the Rockets’ new TV deal set to kick off next season, the grin on Les Alexander’s face this time next week could be as big as the city of New York.