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On Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler, and the Endless Debate

The Interwebs are pretty fairly split on the question of whether Lin SHOULD be a Knick next year, at the 3 year, 25 million dollar price the Rockets have offered for him. In my limited reading, no one has suggested that Ray Felton is better than Lin only that Lin isn’t worth what Houston wants to pay him.

This puts me in mind, obviously, of the Tyson Chandler situation though that is, in most significant ways, a different situation altogether—Tyson was a veteran presence, who was certainly going to do what he did the previous season barring injury, Lin is still trying to prove he’s not a flash in the pan.

But it is, in fact, the same debate. Assembling a great team is a process that takes luck, time and coincidence. The window for a great team to BE great can be very small. To get close enough to strike, you have to be sensible, but to strike, sometimes, you have to sign that one irresponsible deal. NOT doing so will leave the option open of something bigger in the future---

But that will only matter if the future option comes along in time for the present nucleus to take advantage of it, just as in the case of the Mavericks and the 34-year old Dirk Nowitzki.

As fans, we don't want any of the good players to go. As increasingly educated fans, we understand what the team is trying to do, in these cases, whether we agree or not. But all of us have different ideas of what it is reasonable to hope for, and of what the value of any one player is.

And so we argue, back in forth. Do you Lin—or Chandler—up? Even if it ruins future flexibility? Even if they’re only partially the answer, and there might be a better one, though, again, there might be nothing at all? Or do you take the chance that staying flexible will pay dividends down the road—before it’s too late.

There are lots of ways in which this question, with regards to the Knicks, is moot. WITHOUT Lin, they still have assloads of salary. Hoopshype hasn’t completely updated the Knicks salaries, but suffice it to say they’re at 60.7 mil before Steve Novak’s extension, Camby’s contract, Ray Felton’s contract, J.R. Smith’s contract and whatever else they have to do to fill out the team. So this is, 100%, just James Dolan not wanting to spend the cash.

More importantly, as the most astute bloggers have pointed out, it’s not that Lin isn’t worth it, it’s that he’s not necessarily worth the luxury tax that his contract on top of EVERYONE ELSE’S will incur. The three year, 25 million dollar offer isn’t exactly unreasonable in a real sense, not in a world where Brook Lopez is getting a max deal and Nic Batum is getting 46 million.

That’s true even for people who aren’t sold on Lin, who point to the small sample size of his performance, or say, to the fact that his shooting percentage in his second month of being a starter dipped from 47% to 41%, and that he averaged around 3.6 TOs a game.

But would you pay Jeremy Lin 5 million for the next two years? Of course you would. It’s that last year at 15 mil, obviously, that freaks people out but, again, as the more astute bloggers have pointed out, when was the last time a huge expiring deal was a problem? You don’t want to pay Jeremy Lin 15 mil in three years? Great. Instant cap space for someone else.

The Ray Felton trade was a puzzling move, but now that it’s done, taking Lin back would be a puzzling move. Kidd-Lin-Felton doesn’t make any sense. So we’re not asking what the Knicks should do now—we’re just asking, where’s the line? When do you pay too much for a player who’s integral to your being able to win now? What do you have to hope for to be able to say goodbye?

In the Knicks’ case, it’s just cash. They don’t have the cap space for any of the big guns. In the Mavericks; case, it’s Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, or even Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, and Darren Collison.

What do you have to know before you let go of a big, but not the biggest part, of your franchise’s foundation because of money or years?

Hit me up.