NBA Sunday: Will Knicks Pass On Lin?
The Jeremy Lin Clock Starts
The New York Knicks officially received Jeremy Lin’s signed offer sheet from the Houston Rockets late Saturday night, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, following a whirlwind evening in which New York acquired point guard Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, the Knicks have until 11:59 PM on Tuesday night to match or pass on Lin, and the Felton move did nothing but complicate that decision.
Fans, of course, would love to see Lin return, despite the fact that he started only 25 games last season and has not a single minute of playoff experience under his belt, but with big money getting shelled out to big stars, not all of whom will be healthy forever, the Knicks are in win-now mode, and that puts the future of Lin in New York in limbo.
Before getting too bent out of shape about the Felton signing, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily signal Lin heading to Houston. Iman Shumpert is going to miss a good chunk of the season rehabbing that torn ACL, and while he’s out it doesn’t seem at all silly to carry three point guards on the roster. Put as simply as possible, they need backcourt depth and Felton can play both guard positions when the need calls for it. The 39-year-old Kidd is the oldest player in the league, so keeping the unproven Lin as the only other point guard would have been risky. Felton is, at least, insurance at that position.
It’s also important to note that the Knicks probably aren’t one of the teams who are going to be scared off by the repeat offender luxury tax. If there are ways for them to avoid it, they obviously will, but Lin and what he means to the organization from a marketing standpoint could be worth the penalties.
Still, if New York matched Lin, they’d have $58 million invested in four players next season, $62.5 in 2013-2014, and a ridiculous $76.5 million in 2014-2015 assuming Carmelo Anthony picks up his player option. Considering the salary cap is $58 million and the luxury tax threshold is $70 million, it’s easy to see why a team would need to weigh this decision carefully. Add 10-11 more players to that mix, and James Dolan could be looking at a stiff tax three years from now.
The luxury tax has always existed to make big market teams balk on taking on that much salary, and the increasing penalties for repeat offenders added in the most recent CBA will prove to have been very effective if New York does, indeed, pass on keeping Lin and that crazy poison pill deal.
There are arguments for keeping Lin (marketability, popularity with fans, youth, promise, and potential), and there are arguments for letting him go (unproven, too expensive, and serious bust potential), and depending on what you read today the Knicks are simultaneously leaning towards matching Lin’s sheet and letting him go to Texas.
In short, nobody knows how this is going to end up just yet, which is exactly what makes the next three days of waiting all the more interesting. Will the Knicks match, or won’t they? The future of the Knicks organization really does depend on the outcome of that decision, both on the court and from a financial standpoint.
Trevor Ariza “Getting Ahead of the Curve”
The thing about the Washington Wizards last season is that they weren’t a particularly good basketball team. Coming off a season like that, the Washington front office really didn’t have much of a choice but to make some major changes to the organization. Some teams would try to sell those struggles as rebuilding, but not the Wizards. Instead, they’ve worked hard to pair up a talented young core with a ton of veteran muscle, and that includes the recently acquired small forward Trevor Ariza.
Ariza, who averaged right around 10 ppg and 5 rpg over the last two seasons for the New Orleans Hornets, came over to D.C. this summer along with Emeka Okafor, and combined with Nene, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season, and rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal, the Wizards hope to turn around their fortunes next season.
Ariza is looking forward to a new beginning not only for himself, but also for his new team.
“It feels great. Any time you get to start over, start fresh, it’s a good thing,” Ariza told HOOPSWORLD while watching the Wizards’ Summer League team in Las Vegas. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun. We’ll get to try things early, see what we can do together as a team, and try to build a camaraderie.”
The building of that rapport is apparently starting immediately, as most veterans have no reason to step foot on UNLV’s campus during the summer to check up on players fighting for roster spots at Summer League. However, Ariza’s presence in Vegas has more to it than just getting to know some of the young guys.
“I want to get ahead of the learning curve and see what we’re trying to do so I can get home and try to fit into the system,” he explained. While not a participant in the games, simply watching some of the plays run and getting a sense of how some of the coaching staff works should help his transition to his new team.
He hopes that his efforts, plus the chemistry of the new frontcourt and the development of the young backcourt, will be enough to help turn around Washington’s fortunes this upcoming season. While it’s hard to complain about getting talent like Wall and Beal in the draft, a time comes when playing around in the lottery gets old. The Wizards—including Ariza—would like to go ahead and stop losing games now.
“The whole goal is to try and win, to get as many wins as you possibly can, and get to the playoffs,” Ariza said, putting the exclamation point on precisely what GM Ernie Grunfeld had in mind when he acquired him. With this group, and Ariza’s level of dedication to fitting in and having an impact on his new team, it’s hard not to see them experience major growth as a team this upcoming season.
DeMar DeRozan Sees Bright Future In Toronto
The Toronto Raptors are a team on the rise, and fourth-year swingman DeMar DeRozan is going to be a big part of the renaissance. After having established himself as the team’s top scorer with Andrea Bargnani missing half the season due to injury, DeRozan steps into this upcoming season as one of the team’s leaders, which is something he was nudged towards by new head coach Dwayne Casey last year.
“I learned a lot from him,” DeRozan told HOOPSWORLD at the Vegas Summer League. “We had a lot of ups and downs, but it comes with a season with a new coaching staff. I’m grateful to have this summer and summer league to be with the guys to get better and be better prepared for next season.”
Of course, a few practices with new point guard Kyle Lowry and rookie Jonas Valanciunas will help give DeRozan and Casey a better sense of what they’re working with. Both players should make a huge impact on getting this team out of the 2013 lottery.
“It’s going to be a great addition,” DeRozan said about the Lowry acquisition and the arrival of Valanciunas. “We’re going to have a hell of a team next year, and once we all get together into training camp, we should definitely be something to reckon with this coming season.
“Our main goal is to go out there and make the playoffs,” he added. “That’s our main goal at the end of the day—make the playoffs and try to make something happen there.”
Lottery pick Terrence Ross should also help nudge the Raptors in a winning direction, and it was DeRozan’s desire to see him and fellow rookie Quincy Acy in action that brought him to Vegas. Needless to say, DeRozan is excited about what Ross will bring to the team.
“He’s a great shooter from three-point and mid-range, and he’s definitely athletic,” he said. “I was in the same position when I was in Summer League; once you learn the game, get more comfortable and more confident with the game and get to understand how the league works on the court on both ends, everything comes to you easier.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that DeRozan was, himself, playing in these games, and now he’s helping to lead an NBA team into the playoff picture.
“Time goes by fast. I’m coming up on my fourth year, and calling these rookies ‘young guys’ is definitely crazy, but it’s good to see. I’m just glad to see them trying to get better.”
As the rookies improve, so should the rest of the team, and between Ross, Lowry, Valanciunas, and a healthy Bargnani, the Raptors should be good enough to compete for an Eastern Conference playoff spot this season. And like DeRozan said, that’s all they really want.