There's no arguing Jeremy Lin's marketability. His unlikely rise to stardom dominated sports media. But does his play on the court warrant being paid more than $25 million over the next three years?
New York must decide whether to match Houston's offer sheet for the Harvard graduate by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.
With point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd now on the roster, bringing back Lin seems unlikely -- and it's probably for the best from a basketball standpoint.
Felton, whom the Knicks just acquired in a sign-and-trade, is not only the better option at point guard for financial reasons -- he's a better basketball player.
The last time Felton was in New York, he had a season worthy of All-Star consideration, averaging 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 3.3 turnovers in 54 games with the Knicks in 2010-11.
In 25 games as a starter last year, Lin averaged more points (18.2) and turnovers (4.7) and fewer assists (7.7) than Felton did with the Knicks.
While New York has the opportunity to weigh its future financial obligations with Lin, it doesn't have that same luxury with its other stars. Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will lock up more than $50 million a year through the 2014-15 season.
So the Knicks must find a point guard that best fits the group they're stuck with, and that's not Lin, who flourished when his star teammates were sidelined.
The 23-year-old is entering his third season in the league. He has loads of talent and the potential to mature into a solid point guard one day. But New York hasn't advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2000, so there's a sense of urgency.
The Knicks need stability at point guard. They hope that comes in the form of a 39-year-old future Hall of Famer and a seven-year veteran who has averaged 13.4 points and 6.7 assists during his career.
Kidd and Felton won't come close to matching Lin's popularity and publicity, but they should be able to match his on-court production.
- Jeffrey Tomik