Chris Chambers - Getty Images
Did the New York Knicks properly replace Jeremy Lin? We're not so sure.
The New York Knicks had an eventful summer, to say the least. The departure of Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets was a shock to everyone that assumed that a) Knicks owner James Dolan would continue to play with monopoly money with his team's payroll, and b) the marketing power of Lin would make it impossible for any team to let him go. Instead, Lin is gone, and the pressure is now on Carmelo Anthony to truly be the face of the franchise as he was always supposed to be.
Let's do our best to review the many things that happened to New York this summer.
LETTING JEREMY LIN GO
Cut through the blinding rhetoric, and you can see why the Knicks were in a tough spot here. Because of the way the salary cap works, the most they could offer Lin was a four-year contract worth about $24 million. Lin played only 35 games last year, but in those 35 games, he showed he could more than hold his own at the NBA's most important position. Games like the February one against the Miami Heat happened, but they weren't frequent enough to prevent a team from trying to spend more to lure Lin away. Promising 23-year-old point guards like Lin are worth more than $6 million a season on the open market.
It's also easy to say why the Houston Rockets' unique poison pill contract offer sheet put the Knicks in even more of a bind. In 2014-15, the Knicks were already slated to pay Amar'e Stoudemire $23 million, Anthony the same if he didn't opt out to become a free agent and Tyson Chandler $14 million. Add on $15 million for Lin, throw in the expected repeater penalties, and the Knicks would have been able to fund half the league with their luxury tax bill. You live with that if you're spending $15 million on Chris Paul. Lin's another story.
It's not like the Knicks could do anything about this predicament either. They could have sweet-talked Lin all they wanted, but at the end of the day, none of that would have permitted the Knicks to spend more than $24 million over four years. It's all about the Benjamins, especially for a 23-year-old trying to cement his place in the league. They also seemingly had to worry about their franchise player, who wasn't exactly jumping for joy at the thought of his teammate getting paid.
In the end, they did the most Knicks thing possible, disappearing to stall the physical delivery of Lin's offer sheet so they could buy time on alternate plans. But looking back on it, a separation was inevitable. It's hard to really fault the Knicks for letting him go.
However, the folks that replaced Lin ...
RAYMOND FELTON, JASON KIDD AND PABLO PRIGIONI
Now this was a poor backup plan. Is there any team in the league that will be weaker at the point guard position next year?
Bringing in Felton for four years and $18 million seems like a waste. Felton was out of shape last year and really hasn't demonstrated that he's a starting-quality point guard at any point outside of a brief two-month run quarterbacking Mike D'Antoni's offense. Mike Woodson is 180 degrees removed from D'Antoni's style, so I'm not sure why the Knicks think this is going to work out. If anything, Woodson coaches more like Nate McMillan, Felton's coach in Portland for a disastrous half a season. A four-year commitment to Felton also strikes me as risky given his inability to stay in shape last year. Of all people to give a long-term deal, why him?
And he's probably the starter too. Kidd lost five steps last year, couldn't defend anybody and used just 12.6 percent of his team's possessions last year, the third-lowest of any point guard in the league that averaged at least 15 minutes a game. He might be a worthwhile addition if he could back up and groom a young point guard, but no such player exists on this roster. Oh, and he got a DUI during his first week with the franchise.
Prigioni, meanwhile, is essentially the Argentinian Kidd at this point. Ten years ago, he would have been a great addition. Now, he's well past his prime.
One of these players will replace Lin in the starting lineup. I realize that Woodson's offense deemphasizes point-guard play, but the Knicks really had to do better here. A smarter move would have been to sign Ramon Sessions for the same kind of money Felton got and told Woodson to figure it out. At least Sessions is in his prime.
A sneaky addition late in the summer, Brewer has always been overlooked by his teams because of his lack of shooting range. But he's a pretty solid defender, he runs the floor well, cuts into open space and generally gives you 20-25 minutes of pretty decent play. He had a really bad offensive season in Chicago last year, but he could very well bounce back in a new environment. The Knicks will need him early, because Iman Shumpert is out until December as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the playoffs.
A far better option than paying Landry Fields $7 million a season.
MARCUS CAMBY AND KURT THOMAS
What, Chris Dudley wasn't available? In all seriousness, Camby and Thomas lost several steps last season, but they'll be fine in their roles. Camby will play better as a full-time backup, while Thomas can still lay wood on whoever crosses his path.
As long as the Knicks have realistic expectations for each, they were decent signings.
OVERALL GRADE: C