The offseason that doesn’t stop giving continued this past weekend for the New York Knicks. There were stories of problems delivering offer sheets, possible gripes between Jeremy Lin and the Knicks organization and players calling the deal “ridiculous” and suggesting it could cause locker room friction Meanwhile, the team added their 900th point guard to the roster.
At some point today, the Knicks will make official what we’ve known all weekend. In a sign and trade with the Portland Trailblazers, the Knicks will re-acquire Raymond Felton and big man Kurt Thomas. Going to Portland are Jared Jeffries and Dan Gadzuric along with the rights to the Knicks two Greek players, Georgios Prentezis and Kostas Papanikolaou. The Knicks will pay Jeffries salary ($1.35 million) in the deal while Felton will receive $8.7 million over three years in his deal.
The specifics of the deal are not important at the moment. Linsanity has once again grasped this city, as everyone is speculating whether the addition of Felton signals the end of Jeremy Lin with the Knicks. Why is that?
1. Once the deal with Portland is completed, it will give the Knicks two point guards under contract in Felton and Jason Kidd, whom they signed earlier this offseason. While no official word has come from the Knicks, agent George Bass says the team has signed his client, point guard Pablo Prigioni from the Argentinean National Team, to a one year deal worth the rookie minimum. If that is the case, the Knicks will have three point guards under contract. Add Lin to all this and you have four point guards on the roster.
2. It seems as if the Knicks have soften their stance to match any offer sheet for Lin. Sources had told ESPN’s Marc Stein the Knicks would match any deal for Lin, even if it were worth a billion dollars. Coach Mike Woodson has said all offseason that Lin would be the starter come next season. However, that was all before Houston changed the original offer sheet of four years for $28 million to three years for $25 million. Both deals start off at around $5 million in the first two years for New York, but would balloon afterwards. The initial offer carried salaries of around $9 million in the final two seasons while the newest offer has a price tag of $15 million in the third and final year.
Now before I move forward, let’s us all remember that regardless of the size of Lin’s contract, the Knicks can match the deal without limitations from the salary cap. They will no doubt have to pay a luxury tax, since their salary, even without Lin on board, will exceed the $70.307 million cap.
Dolan. Don’t Mess This Up. Re-Sign Lin. It’s A No-Brainer. Here’s why:
1. So what if the team will have maybe up to four point guards on the roster? Prigioni is an unknown, no matter how many YouTube videos you can find of him. Until we see the man lace them up against NBA talent on a consistent basis, you really don’t know what you have. That leaves you with the three-headed monster of Lin-Kidd-Felton. I won’t get into a Lin vs. Felton debate, as that’s already been done. If one of those three is the starting point guard and another is the back up, it seemingly leaves the last one without a role. However, with the departure of Landry Fields to the Toronto Raptors and Iman Shumpert recovering from his ACL injury, the Knicks have yet to address the hole they have at shooting guard, even after re-signing J.R. Smith. If Smith is the starter, any one of the three PGs can fill in as the back up SG. While none of the three are prolific shooter like a Steve Novak, they can hold their own shooting beyond the arc, as each holds a career three-point shooting percentage over 31% (yes Lin’s small sample size, blah, blah, blah). Offensively, what the Knicks need around Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are guys who can hit the trey and these guys can do that. It would even be intriguing to see Lin play some SG, considering his success on isolations, evidenced by yesterday’s True Hoop column on Lin. How Woodson would divide the minutes up would be interesting, especially when Shumpert returns. But keep in mind, it can’t be expected of Shumpert to just come back and pick up from last year and Jason Kidd is 39 years old. So the added and talented depth at guard could be much needed.
2. The Knicks are going to pay a luxury tax this year, with or without Lin on the roster. Once the Felton deal is completed, the Knicks payroll will sit somewhere in the $78 million region, well above the luxury cap of $70.3 million. With the tax this season set at $1 for ever dollar over, the Knicks tax bill will sit somewhere between $7.75 and $12.75 million, depending on whether the Knicks add Lin’s $5 million. Neither figure seems huge, especially considering what the Knicks have paid before for worse rosters. In 2013-14, if they have Lin, pick up the option on Shumpert (almost certainly) and J.R. Smith locks in his $2.8 million player option, the Knicks salary would stand at $82.3 million with nine players on the roster. If we use this upcoming season’s luxury cap, that tax bill would come out to $21.26 million based on the new tax rules. Again, not an exuberant amount for the Knicks. In the third, “poison pill” year of Lin’s contract (2014-2015), the Knicks payroll could hit $92.9 million, assuming Carmelo Anthony opts into his player option, the Knicks pick up their second option on Shumpert, and the mutual option between them and Camby is activated. In that scenario, the Knicks tax would be $54.8 million. The Knicks would be saved from the repeater tax because they avoided the tax this past season and only teams who were taxpayers for three consecutive years are at risk of the repeater tax. Your three-year totals: $95.75 this upcoming season, $103.57 million in 2013-14 and $147.75 million in 2014-15. Again, these numbers are based on the current contracts on the team (barring completion of Felton deal), the Knicks picking up options the next three seasons and players opting into their own options. Now it isn’t my money, so it’s easy for me to say this, but as Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm noted, shouldn’t a man that can pay for this also be able to pay those prices:
— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) July 16, 2012
And that figure doesn’t even include the luxury tax for that season. Yes, the possible total of $147+ million in 2014-15 is out of this world. However, we’re supposed to believe that James Dolan, owner of Cablevision and Madison Square Garden, the place that sells out basketball and hockey games, boxing and tennis matches, concerts and shows, can’t pay those bills? As I’ve said before, the money the Knicks can make off of Jeremy Lin can pay their tax bill and probably some other teams and we have enough numbers that chronicle MSG’s gain since the birth of Linsanity.
3. With the Knicks over the luxury cap the next two seasons, this summer is basically their last shot at adding talent for this three-year window at making a run at a title. They’re basically stuck to vet minimum deals after this season, other than working on deals for their own guys like a J.R. Smith. So why not stock up on as much talent as you can WHEN you can?
4. In the event Lin turns out to be a fluke, just a miracle that captivated the sports world last year, his contract is still a trading piece. If there is one thing sports have taught the world, is that any contract, no matter how long or expensive, can be traded.
There have been rumors that Lin was upset the Knicks never approached him with an offer during the free agency period. If that’s the case, Jeremy needs to brush up on some Restricted Free Agency 101 at Harvard and realize that the only way he was getting his money was by testing the market. Maybe the Knicks could’ve made an offer in a show of confidence towards Lin as their starter and still waited for other teams to make their offers. Whatever, what’s done is done on that end. Now if Dolan is taking any possible dissatisfaction from Lin as a slight towards the organization, this is where he needs to step back and out. We’ve seen players gone based on his dislike (Latrell Sprewell the most notable) and this would be the wrong time for Dolan’s ego to get in the way. As for Anthony’s comments on the “ridiculous” offer and Smith suggesting the deal could cause friction in the locker room, that’s just what happens when you stick a microphone in front of a guys face. Should they have mad the comments? Probably not. But they aren’t the first or last NY athletes to make news making comments to the media.
We all now sit and wait, anxious to see what this franchise does in the next two days. For the sake of its fan base, one that has endured endless drama and calamity, the team makes the right decision and brings back Lin. That move will suggest the team is serious in its pursuit of a championship in the next three years instead of just providing drama to remain relevant.