As it currently stands, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are the two point guards on the Knicks’ roster. Jason Kidd signed a three-year deal for the mini-MLE, while Raymond Felton was the centerpiece of a sign-and-trade, which let him receive a three-year deal reported as $10 million (I’m nearly 100% sure Knicks can’t offer more than $8,797,352.7, so there must be incentives that push it closer to $10 million). The Knicks will have until 11:59 PM EST to decide if they want to match Jeremy Lin’s offer-sheet with the Houston Rockets, and right now, there’s no definitive way to tell which way the Knicks are leaning.
After the United States’ win over Brazil last night, Carmelo Anthony spoke to the media about Jeremy Lin. I’d take this comment with a grain of salt, since Melo could be saying this to save face, and really not know anything. But, let’s role with it.
More Melo on #Lin: “With Jeremy, I know he definitely wants to be back in New York & Dolan definitely wants him back.”
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) July 17, 2012
Now, if Dolan has given the front-office’s the green light to match Lin, this looks like a no-brainer. Over the next three-years, the Knicks will be capped out and will not have the opportunity to add a player of Jeremy Lin’s caliber. If James Dolan really wants Lin back, and gives Grunwald and his team the green-light, there’s no reason for the Knicks not to match. Why go for good – a depth chart of Felton, Kidd – when you can have great – a depth chart of Lin, Felton, Kidd.
The Knicks could’ve really known their original plan days, weeks or months ago. There’s no way they’d match or not match before tonight’s deadline (keep Lin on Morey’s books, stalling him), but I think Melo’s quote re-affirms that the Knicks have made up their mind.
Either Melo’s quote is true, in which case the Knicks will match the offer, or Melo’s quote is a lie, which would leave the Knicks without a green-light from owner James Dolan to match the offer.
Assuming the Knicks decide to match Jeremy Lin, let’s take a look at the best and worst case scenarios.
Best Case Scenario
Jeremy Lin starts off right where he left off, and as the season wears on, improves to Linsanity levels. The value he’d provide to the team would make the $5 million he’s making in the first two years as disposable as the veteran’s minimum, not making New Yorkers think twice about his $15 million third year. As he continues shining on Basketball’s biggest stage, merchandise sales sky-rocket, especially when he gets voted on to the All-Star team, and make James Dolan enough money to pay endless luxury tax…and buy a new yacht.
Worst Case Scenario
Jeremy Lin would run up and down the court, finding the open man, but not contributing much more on offense. Fans label him as a flash in the pan, but thanks to a strong point guard depth chart behind him, his poor play is masked by a Felton/Kidd/Lin platoon. Thanks to his worldwide appeal, he gets voted onto All-Star team, while allowing Dolan to cash in on his merchandise. The $25.1 million deal looks like a gross over-payment, but his third-year, $15 million contract is the most tradable expiring contract in the history of the league. Not only is he still young enough to improve, but his presence brings marketing clout, no matter his current ability. Jeremy Lin is a name, which will entice teams to trade for his $15 million deal, even if he doesn’t live up to it.
The Middle Ground
Jeremy Lin regresses a bit from Linsanity levels, back to around 14 points and 6 assists a game, which by all means are still great numbers. He’s an above average point guard, making the average salary in the league the first two years, before seeing his contract balloon in the third year.
You’ve heard it over and over: “Jeremy Lin will cost the Knicks around $50 million in the third year”, but that’s not entirely true. Sure, because of the way the Knicks’ contracts are structured, Jeremy Lin’s third year will cost the Knicks much more than the $15 million Lin will receive, but it’s not fair to put the blame on Lin. Every player on the roster shares the same blame in regards to luxury tax. Just because Lin would be the last contract signed doesn’t mean he should take the blame. It took more than just Lin’s contract to create this luxury tax bill.