Knicks trade for Felton, Lin could be gone (UPDATE)
UPDATE (Noon): Both Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony spoke about the news of Jeremy Lin possibly not being re-signed Sunday morning at the U.S. men’s Olympic team practice.
“It’s not up to me,” Anthony said. “It’s up to the organization to say that they want to match that ridiculous contract.
“I’d love to see him back, but I think he has to do what’s best for him right now.”
“It’s a tough call,” Chandler said. “Ultimately they’ve got to do what’s best for the organization.”
Linsanity could be done in the Garden after the Knicks pulled a surprise trade for point guard Raymond Felton.
Late Saturday, the Knicks traded Jared Jeffries and Dan Gadzuric to Portland for Felton and Kurt Thomas. Both are former Knicks.
But more noteworthy could be the message the deal sends to Jeremy Lin.
Lin, a restricted free agent, signed an offer sheet with the Rockets yesterday for three years and $25.025 million. The contract has a so-called “poison pill” in the third year. The deal would pay Lin about $5 million in the first two years and $14.8 million in the third. If the Knicks match, they will be significantly over the salary cap in the third year of the deal. They have until Tuesday at midnight to make the decision.
New York has implied, if not outright stated, all offseason that they would match any offer to Lin. But trading for Felton is a clear indication that might not be so.
“Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin, those are two young players that we’d like back here,” general manager Glen Grunwald said Thursday at the press conference announcing the additins of Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. “We’ll make a final determination when we need to make that determination. Now is not the time.”
The Knicks already made an official decision on Fields though. They decided not to match the Raptors’ three-year, $20 million deal for Fields. The team had re-signed J.R. Smith earlier this week, making the Fields signing less important.
But matching Lin’s offer sheet was deemed much more likely. Head coach Mike Woodson said earlier this week from Las Vegas, where he is coaching the Knicks’ summer league team, that Lin would be the team’s starter next season with Kidd backing him up. Kidd also talked openly Thursday about looking forward to mentoring Lin.
Lin started 25 games last season, exploding into the national consciousness with 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game, before tearing the meniscus in his left knee and missing the rest of the season. Felton, who played for the Knicks in 2010-11, averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists per game in 56 starts for Portland last season. He averaged 17.1 points and nine assists per game in his one season with the Knicks, but that was in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-tempo offense.
The biggest issue with bringing Lin back is reportedly the potential hit against the team’s salary cap. The Rockets re-did the contract to include almost $15 million in his third season. Should the Knicks match the offer sheet, they would have $76.3 million locked up in 2014-15 in just Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Carmelo Anthony ($23.5 million player option), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Lin ($14.8 million). The salary cap will likely be around $60 million that season, with the luxury tax in the $70 million range. The cap is $58 million and the luxury tax threshold is $70.3 million for the 2012-13 season. Those numbers could increase by 2014, but likely not by a significant margin.
The Knicks, who are a repeat offender of the luxury tax, will have to pay $2.75 on the dollar, in 2014 if they are $5 million to $10 million over the tax and $3.50 on the dollar if they are $10 million to $15 million above the luxury tax threshold. The team has about $10 million locked up in 2014-15 on Felton, Kidd and Camby as well, meaning they are on the hook for over $86 million if they match Lin. If they are $15 million over the threshold, they could pay an exorbitant $52.5 million in luxury tax.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.