NOW the New York Knicks are worried about financial prudence? Not when Amare Stoudemire signed a five-year, $95 million deal that nobody else was coming close to offering. Not when they burned any chance of a do-over by using the amnesty on Chauncey Billups. Not when they just agreed to spend over $10 million a year on Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, even though none of them were any good last season.
And NOW they're talking about how well the pieces fit? Not when they traded for Carmelo Anthony to play with Stoudemire. Not when they had Mike D'Antoni coaching both of them. Not when they added other questionably fitting parts -- the aforementioned Camby and Felton, as well as Baron Davis and J.R. Smith -- and hoped the talent would offset their Frankensteinian fusion of non-complementary abilities.
The shocking thing about New York's decision not to match the Houston Rockets' three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet to Jeremy Lin -- and, to a lesser extent, not to match the Toronto Raptors' three-year, $20 million offer sheet to Landry Fields -- is that it flies completely in the face of their entire rationale in building this team.
Money wasn't supposed to matter. They were going to keep spending to build a champion.
Well, apparently now they care. By not keeping Lin and Fields, the Knicks have essentially yanked a half-baked cake out of the oven. They're over the luxury tax with no starting-caliber backcourt players and an uneasy Amare-Melo alliance up front. If they're trying to go 44-38 and still pay tax each of the next three years, they're off to a great start.
Of course, this was a money decision, and keeping Lin was going to cost some serious cash. I'm sure some small-market teams are high-fiving now that they've finally made a luxury tax punitive enough for a big-market team to care about it.
The luxury tax hit on Lin's $14.9 million salary in 2014-15 was going to be enormous; depending on your assumptions, it was likely to end up close to $30 million, bringing the total cost of employing Lin that season to $45 million. You could argue that Stoudemire or Anthony's contract is costing just as much, so it's not fair to say that Lin's deal is the one pushing them over. But given the money they've already sunk, an economist would rightly describe the $45 million figure in 2014-15 as the marginal cost of matching the Lin deal.
The Knicks, as our Larry Coon pointed out, could have reduced that bill to an extent by using the stretch provision on Lin, but that's almost as bad -- it's perhaps $25 million instead of $45 million, depending on which years the Knicks are in the tax, but you're paying Lin not to play and still need to spend more money (and tax) on somebody to play point guard.
Matching Fields and Lin would have produced an even more obscene wage bill that year; the Knicks' starting backcourt would have cost around $75 million in salary and tax, which is more than nearly every team's payroll in the NBA right now.
But again, the Knicks operated like this wasn't a problem. The tax on Lin's deal might be much easier to handle if they weren't also paying a combined $7.2 million in guaranteed money to Camby, Kidd and Felton that season, even though the first two will be in their 40s and the third might be 300 pounds by then. That's half of Lin's 2014-15 salary and nearly two-thirds of his tax hit right there, on players who likely will give the Knicks little or nothing that season.
That's not all: In the preceding two years, Camby, Felton, and Kidd will make $21 million to Lin's $10 million, and the Knicks are in the tax both seasons. Do the math and you'll see that the Knicks will pay just as much to Camby, Felton and Kidd over the next three seasons as they would have paid for Lin, even allowing for the two minimum salary players that would replace Camby and one of the guards.
Which leads to only two conclusions: Either (A) the Knicks thought they were actually better off over the next three seasons with Kidd, Camby and Felton, or (B) the Knicks front office thought it had permission to spend freely and would match Lin anyway, and then was blindsided by ownership. I don't have inside information as to which one happened, but it strikes me that A isn't the way to bet.
Instead, the Knicks will lose Lin without any compensation, which is nuts since he clearly had huge trade value.
(Side note: A sign-and-trade was not realistic in this scenario; because of the bizarre "Arenas rule" in the league's collective bargaining agreement, Lin stood to get a much bigger contract by signing an offer sheet than he could have made in a sign-and-trade and thus had zero reason to agree to one. Ditto for Fields.)
(Side note to my side note, for Lin fans making the "he's an expiring contract in 2014-15!" case: This is the one argument for keeping him that is actually pure nonsense. Expirings don't just vanish into the ether when they're traded; they're dealt for somebody with an even worse contract. Whether it was by paying Lin or paying somebody else, his final year was going to be phenomenally expensive.)
As for fit, I agree Lin is not a great one with the rest of the Knicks' roster. Of course, nobody on the Knicks is a great fit with the rest of the Knicks' roster, with the exceptions of Chandler and Steve Novak. Felton isn't a great one either. He's not much of an outside shooter, and like Lin his best results came running a pick-and-roll offense with the ball in his hands under Mike D'Antoni. Except the results weren't as good as Lin's, and he's heavier and older now. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, this is only going to look worse once next season starts. Lin wasn't a great fit in New York, but my goodness does he fit in Houston. Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic had the best seasons of their respective careers last season as point guards in Kevin McHale's system. The same thing will happen with Lin: They're going to give him the rock, get out of his way, and let him create to his heart's content. He'll be better with the Rockets than he ever would have been in New York.
Finally, a tip of the hat is due to the Rockets' front office. They've brilliantly exploited the fact that the third year of an "Arenas rule" contract could bring massive pain to a luxury tax team -- even one as rich as the Knicks -- and are going to clean up at the cash register as a result. Houston is already an immensely popular team in China as a result of the Yao Ming era. Now Lin can pick up where he left off. And as our J.A. Adande noted, this also may make them more alluring for Dwight Howard's global marketing ambitions.
All of this, however, gets back to one simple truth: The Knicks stopped following their own script just as the play reached its climax. It's great that they care about money and fit, but if that's the case they might have wanted to heed their own advice at some point between the Melo trade and yesterday.
[ 此帖被Lv1白魔法师在2012-07-18 16:12修改 ]