When it was reported that Jeremy Lin would sign an offer sheet with the Rockets, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said the team would absolutely match the offer. Less than a week later, the point guard is on his way to Houston
Houston offered Lin a three-year contract worth $25 million, which New York was unwilling to match. The Knicks did not want to pay Lin the $14.8 million in the 2014-15 that the deal requires.
There are valid reasons for letting Lin walk. He's a relative unknown, having played just 35 games last year and 64 in his career. $25 million is a lot of money, especially for a player as inexperienced as Lin.
Despite these concerns, the Knicks will regret not re-signing Lin.
It may be difficult to project what kind of player Lin will be, but he did show flashes of brilliance in 2012. He had some of the best performances of the lockout-shortened season, including his 38-point game against the Lakers and his 28-point, 14-assist effort against the Mavericks.
A fluke doesn't have those kinds of games against quality opponents. Lin struggled at times, but that's to be expected from a 23-year-old.
As the Knicks roster stands right now, signing Lin to this contract would put them well over the salary cap in 2014-15, and force them to pay millions of dollars in luxury tax penalties. New York would have $76 million committed just to Lin, Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Paying so much money to a few players usually hurts a team's ability to acquire other players.
However, it wouldn't be incredibly difficult to shed a lot of salary, given the players' contracts. All four of those players will be on the final year of their deals. Expiring contracts are very valuable commodities in the NBA, so it wouldn't be that hard for New York to make a trade.
If Lin is playing at a high level at any point over the next couple of years, the Knicks can use him to acquire younger, cheaper players.
As far as the luxury tax goes, the Knicks shouldn't be worried about having to pay a few million dollars. Team owner James Dolan is worth over $2 billion dollars. Any extra money he has to spend won't affect him.
It can be argued how good Lin will eventually be, but it's hard to say that he wouldn't be the best point guard on the team.
Jason Kidd is 39 years old and averaged career lows in points, rebounds and assists last season. He played less than 28 minutes per game last year, but Lin can certainly match his average of 6.2 points and 5.5 assists from a season ago.
Raymond Felton comes to the Knicks after spending years as an average player. He played his best with New York in 2010-11, but has never experienced similar success.
New York knows what it's getting from Kidd and Felton. Neither of them has the potential to be great, while Lin can grow into a top point guard in the league.
The Knicks stumbled upon one of the biggest surprises in NBA history last year, and now they will have nothing to show for it.