Category Archives: NBA

Patience Pays Off for Lakers’ Front Office Duo

So what do I do when I have nothing to write about?

I write about what I know best – the Lakers.

So I was thinking yesterday about the Lakers and how the team added Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Antawn Jamison this offseason.

When you think about this, and you wind back the clock three, four, five months and you really think about this, you wonder – How the f*** did this happen?

Lakers executive Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchack just don’t get enough credit for saving a declining Lakers team/era.

It starts and ends with Andrew Bynum.

From the day he drafted him, Jim Buss supported Andrew Bynum like no one else did. He believed the young kid could blossom into a superstar, and the Lakers next franchise player.


The first time Mitch Kupchack has smiled in a few years…

In 2007, a struggling Lakers team was fighting to just make the playoffs. The deal was available – a package centered on Andrew Bynum for All-Star Jason Kidd. Many Lakers fans, and even Kobe Bryant, wanted the team’s management to pull the trigger on the deal. Jim Buss couldn’t do it. He couldn’t part ways with the 19-year-old center and his vast potential.

Then came the summer of chaos in 2007.

Kobe Bryant, frustrated with the Lakers front office for not making the Kidd deal, requested to be traded. He then trashed Bynum in a viral video that went public.

The Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves began talking about trading Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Kevin Garnett, but the T-Wolves wanted more.

With their franchise in disarray and their superstar player unsatisfied, it would have been easy for Kupchack and Buss to cave.

They didn’t. They held firm, and did so again, with the Jason Kidd offer remaining on the table. So the Lakers moved on from the summer without making any significant moves.

In 2008, Bynum started showing the talent that Buss always believed he had. But when Bynum went down with a knee injury, Kupchack made the Gasol trade and the Lakers went on to make three NBA Finals and win two championships.

Eventually the team’s championship window closed, and Buss and Kupchack returned to work.

In February 2011, the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes were on. The offer was on the table – Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, with other minor players involved.

Anthony, an impending free agent, was willing to sign an extension with the Lakers. Bynum was coming off two knee surgeries in the last three season, and concerns that he was “injury-prone” were rampant at the time. Also, the team had a better record without him, 18-7, than with him, 18-9, that season.

The Lakers front office didn’t budge, in large part because Jim Buss strong support of Bynum.

Months later, after the team was coming off an embarrassing sweep to the Dallas Mavericks, the debate raged – should the Lakers give their core another chance or should they make a major move?

In December 2011, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack decided on the latter and traded for Chris Paul in a deal involving Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, leaving the Lakers.


So David Stern allows the heavily lopsided Gasol trade, rejects the fair CP3 trade, and allows the lopsided Dwight trade?

What happened next was out of their control – David Stern rejecting the trade. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, then asked to be traded, and Mitch Kupchack granted his wish.

Lakers fans everywhere were upset that Kupchack actually traded Odom, and more importantly got “nothing” in return for him. Even Bryant said he didn’t like the move.

They didn’t get “nothing” though. They received a first round pick and a $8.9 million trade exception, which would come in handy later.

After another second round exit in the 2012 playoffs, the Lakers definitely needed help. With Gasol’s consecutive second-round disappearing acts, he was the player most likely to be traded. So the trade offers came in – Kevin Martin and Luis Scola from Houston, Josh Smith from Atlanta, and other potential draft day trades.

The Lakers were a desparate team, but Kupchack and Buss were a patient duo. They wanted the right move, not just any move to please a frustrated fan base.

That patience paid dividends as the Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for two-time MVP Steve Nash in July, a move only possible with the Odom trade exception.

Then a month later, Jim Buss finally gave up Andrew Bynum, and Mitch Kupchack delivered the Dwight Howard trade.

Buss waited on Bynum as he developed from a 17-year-old project into the NBA’s second best center and then traded him for the league’s best center. Buss, the rich kid who supposedly lived off his father’s reputation, showed that he’s more than capable of managing the franchise.

To most Lakers fans, Buss and Kupchack will be remembered as the duo who brought Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to LA.

Instead though they should be remembered for all the moves they didn’t make.

Imagine the Lakers having Jason Kidd now? Or Kevin Garnett? Or even Carmelo?

Or they could have Steve Nash AND Dwight Howard now?

And that’s why every Lakers fan should send Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack a card plus chocolates this Christmas.

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Must Be the Shoes

A young boy is down game point in a play-to-eleven pickup game in his neighborhood park.  On what might be his last defensive stand, he stretches with all his might to block a right-handed layup for the win.

Using every inch at his disposal, he just taps the ball with his fingertips, gathers it up and takes it out to the three-point line.

Knowing it’s going to take an astonishing comeback to earn bragging rights among his friends, the boy drops down to one knee, pulls back the tongue of his right sneaker and whispers, “Please let me be like Mike.”

The Los Angeles Knights haven’t been the same since Calvin tore his magical shoes open!

We’ve all either dreamed, laughed at or lived one of these Calvin Cambridge moments.  As crazy as it seems, we like to believe there is some fragment of our favorite athlete’s talent embedded within the rubber soles caressing  our feet.

With every pair of shoes comes a sense of confidence, a belief that springing past the competition (yes, a Nike Shox pun) is within the realm of possibility.

This spiritual shoe connection is something any athlete dreams for, but as the most important law of economics goes, “Nothing is free.”

On Tuesday that proved to be truer than ever, as the Wall Street Journal came out  with a report that the Nike LeBron X sneakers will cost $315 at full price, with a stripped down version still emptying the pockets at $180.

The shoes are indeed top-of-the-line, but at some point one has to wonder how much profit Nike and LeBron are taking away from this business venture.  An even bigger unknown is how much negative press the newly crowned champ will endure for overpriced shoes after just having been let out of America’s doghouse.

But the simple fact is that recently, shoe models of high profile athletes have been expensive, and unsurprisingly so.  Decades ago this was not the case, but we now live in a world in which giving in to consumer trends and materialism somehow defines social status.

Sadly, the urge to be current isn’t going away any time soon.  In the meantime, I think it’s time to pull up a chair, keep the New Era sticker securely fastened to the bill of your hat and reminisce over some memorable shoes.

2008 Puma Cell Meio

Puma Cell Meio: Usain Bolt (2008)

Retail: ~$130

To say these shoes were popular after the Beijing Olympics is to say The Fonz was just sort of cool.  A version of the part Jamaican, part gold medal shoes was worn by Lighting himself during a 100 meter final in which he broke stride with 15 meters to go and still posted a world record time of 9.69 seconds.  To Nike founder Phil Knight, Bolt was “the one that got away.”

KD II Creamsicles

Nike KD II Creamsicle: Kevin Durant (2010)


2010: $95

Now: $200+

After the release of Durant’s first shoe model, the basketball world was abuzz with excitement over what the newest version would look like.  The world was first graced with the presence of these loud kicks in a nationally televised game against the Dallas Mavericks (a game in which Durant did not play particularly well) during the 2009-2010 season and has since seen many KD models, both in mass and limited release.  Unused original Creamsicles are now considered few and far between and thus the market price for them has increased.

Air Jordan Derek Jeter Mid-Top

Air Jordan Derek Jeter Mid (2007)-

Retail: $90

Nobody aside from Derek Jeter could’ve had the kind of marketability to make baseball cleats stylish.  Think about it—cleats are meant to get dirty, whereas basketball shoes are often taken out then promptly wrapped in tissue paper and neurotically stowed away as collectors’ items.  This shoe and probably Alex Rodriguez’s first Nike Shox model revolutionized the way popular baseball cleats were consumed. Now baseball fans can tune in to Sunday Night Baseball and see Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia wearing size 15 Air Jordan XI Concord cleats.

Adidas Stan Smith II (just one of many)

Adidas Stan Smith II (1971)-

Retail (present, adjusted for inflation): $50 or less

If you’ve lived, chances are you’ve seen this shoe. Despite not being the world’s flashiest creation, the Adidas mainstay has gotten the job done on the tennis court and the training field for over 40 years .   The stripeless (an Adidas rarity) creation has sold over 30 million times since 1971 and is currently available in eight different colors and styles.  Not bad for an old piece of leather, huh?  Consider the Stan Smith II the “Godfather” of modern-day tennis shoes.

Adidas Crazy 8 (Formerly known as the KB8)

Adidas Crazy 8: Kobe Bryant (1998, 2005)-


1998: $100+

Now: $225+

Making its debut with Kobe as the Adidas KB8 at the 1998 All-Star Game, this shoe has been a classic ever since.  It disappeared for a while in 2002 when Kobe left for promises of better marketing (see his Nike Black Mamba short film starring Bruce Willis and Kanye West) and pay with Nike, but was re-released by Adidas as the “Crazy 8” 2005 to rival Nike’s sales.  It worked.  Different color combinations using the Crazy 8 design are still worn by UCLA, Kansas and Baylor basketball players, among others.

Note: Retail prices are averaged where no singular price could be found.  Current prices  reflect eBay and other for-sale values, as many of these shoes are no longer produced.  At original release, more expensive, deluxe versions of each shoe were sold to consumers but not recorded here.  For the Stan Smith II’s, a market equivalent of $50-ish has been maintained since its original release.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars (1917)
  • Air Jordan 1 (1985)
  • Adidas AdiPower Predator TRX FG: Kaka (New: 2012)

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What was Orlando Thinking?

The parallel careers careers of Dwight Howard and Shaq just got even more paralleled. After already sharing the most intimidating bodies of their times, the same first team, the Superman nickname, and the off court shenanigans, leaving Orlando for the Lakers can now be added to the list of similarities.

But what will not be a similarity is Orlando’s roster following the departure of the Supermen. Whereas the 1996 team was still left with Penny Hardaway and finished their first post-Shaq season 45-37, the best player on their 2012 roster is…Aaron Afflalo? And their record, well, it’s not going to get close to 45 wins.

Even Dwight is surprised by how little the Magic got for him.

The Magic traded away a top-5 player in the league and got back a defensive specialist (Afflalo), a chucker (Al Harrington), two unproven youngsters (Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless), and three late 1st round picks. That’s kind of a terrible trade.

Philadelphia gave up Vucevic, Harkless, and Andre Iguodala, who combined make nowhere near the impact as Howard, and still got back Andrew Bynum, a much better piece than the Magic’s whole package.

Several questions arise from this deal. One, why did Orlando not want to take back Bynum or Pau Gasol (or even Iguodala)? And secondly, after all these months of Dwight Drama and nearly the whole league interested, are we supposed believe that Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington is the best deal Orlando got for Dwight Howard?

The first question might have an answer already. Orlando GM Rob Hennigan has been saying this summer that he wants to rebuild the Magic the “Oklahoma City way,” hoping to build a team from scratch through the draft and with young players. That’s understandable. No point in getting a player like Gasol who is in the later stages of his career if you have no chance of contending for a while. But it’s not like Bynum is an old guy. He’s 24 and already arguably the second best center in the league behind Howard. Sounds like a pretty good young piece to rebuild around.

The new face of the franchise in Orlando.

And it’s not as if they got a ton of good young players instead. Afflalo, the “centerpiece” of the trade for Orlando is 26. Harrington is 32. Harkless and Vucevic are 19 and 21 respectively, but have yet to prove they can contribute. And the three draft pick Orlando is getting come from the Nuggets, Sixers, and Lakers who all got better in the trade. Those picks will get Orlando a marginal role player in the late first round. Maybe the Magic just want to be really terrible and hope the lottery goes there way (which I’m sure will miraculously happen this year with absolutely no involvement by David Stern).

Regardless of the draft picks, the Magic should have came away from this deal with the best pieces to build around seeing as they gave up the most. Instead they got the least in return. Even within the trade they made, there was a better deal to be had for Orlando that could have gotten them Bynum.

So if Orlando ends up getting the short end of the stick in this trade, why make it? There were plenty of trade options available to them over the past year that could have given them a better young core to build around.

The Nets didn’t have a great offer for Howard, but the Magic could have gotten Brook Lopez, a solid young center, in return.

The Rockets had a ton of young pieces to offer, including Royce White, Patrick Patterson, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, Chandler Parsons, and Kevin Martin (not really young, he’s 29). I’m not sure which of those Houston was willing to part with, but a package of three of those players plus a few draft picks would given Orlando some young talent that is slightly more proven.

The Bobcats better watch out. Orlando’s going to be gunning for the fewest wins title this season.

Golden State reportedly dangled Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis at Orlando, offering a package centered around one of those two players. Both those players have more star power than Afflalo.

The Hawks made Josh Smith and perhaps Al Horford available, while clearing a ton of cap space to be able to resign Howard in his hometown. Smith or Horford alone would give Orlando a better piece to build around than what they got.

While it’s doubtful the Heat ever came close to offering this, many people believed Dwyane Wade for Howard would be a logical trade for both teams. From rumors of getting Wade in return to actually getting a few role players and picks shows just how miserably Orlando failed in this trade.

The saddest part is that Orlando eventually traded Howard to the team that had the best player to give back in return. But somehow, Andrew Bynum did not end up on the Magic.

On the bright side, we have a full season ahead of us with no chance of any Dwight Howard trade rumors. Then the drama can start all over again when Dwight’s a free agent.

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US Men’s Basketball Puts on Quite the Show

A lot has been made recently about whether this year’s US Men’s Basketball squad could top the original 1992 Dream Team. I’ve tried to avoid it, as it felt as a media ploy to generate interest in a US team that is clearly going to cruise to a gold medal. But after today’s 156-73 destruction of team Nigeria, they may have a point with this whole Dream Team talk.

Carmelo Anthony led the US to the biggest rout in Olympic history.

Team USA broke just about every record they could, scoring the most points in an Olympic game (previously 138, set by Brazil in 1988), scoring an Olympic record 78 first half points, and setting US records by shooting 71% from the field, hitting 26 threes and making 59 field goals.

Commentator Doug Collins believed the game to be over at 13-0 about a minute into the game. Amazingly, that’s true.

The final 39 minutes of the game was just time for the US to pad their stats, set some records, and fix some problems they had in their previous game against Tunisia.

That game began in stark contrast to today’s. Whereas the US had a 13 point lead a minute into the Nigeria game, that was the same lead they held at halftime against Tunisia, as the starters struggled out of the gate.

Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant both got off to hot starts against Nigeria, scoring 14 and 9 points respectively in the first quarter.

This is what the US did to Nigeria.

But the real star of the game was Carmelo Anthony, who came of the bench to score 37 points, hitting 13 of his 16 shots and 10 of 12 from beyond the arc. This followed his 6 for 6, 16 point game against Tunisia, making Anthony the hottest player on the planet right now. He’s not too shabby at basketball either.

Nigeria, despite their 83 point loss, was not without highlights of their own. PG Tony Skinn had a slick ankle breaker on James Harden. And that’s about it.

Team USA put on perhaps the most dominant basketball performance as a team of all time.

“When they shoot like this, I don’t know if there’s any team that can beat them,” said Nigerian forward Ike Diogu.

Well, maybe that ’92 Dream Team could. Who knows?

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5 Things to Take Away from the NBA Summer League

After a hiatus last year, thanks to the lockout, the NBA Summer League returned to action the past few weeks in Orlando and Las Vegas. Summer League provides the first opportunity to see recent draftees face off against NBA competition, albeit the lowest tier of players. Regardless, it can give a glimpse of what players can one day become. Here’s are some observations from this year’s Summer League.

1. Damian Lillard is the real deal

Damian Lillard proved he belongs after his strong Summer League showing.

Portland’s point guard, drafted 6th overall, got some heat for never going against elite competition, having played his college ball at Weber State. His performance in Vegas quelled any worries that this would be a problem. Lillard averaged 26.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in four Summer League games, earning co-MVP honors with Memphis guard Josh Selby.

Lillard showed off his hops, did a great job of getting to the line, demonstrated the deep range of his shot, and showed that he’s not just a scorer and can also pass. For someone who didn’t play against elite competition in college and declined to participate in any group workouts prior to the draft, Lillard had a great showing, proving that his skills can translate to the next level.

2. Even if they couldn’t trade into the top 10, Houston may have had the best draft

Royce White grows an impressive beard.

The Rockets may have helped themselves in their quest for Dwight Howard this Summer League. Their roster was stacked with young talent, and they all met their expectations. Jeremy Lamb showed off his scoring ability by averaging 20 points a game. Terrence Jones put up 18 points on 50% shooting and added 8.6 rebounds per game. Royce White demonstrated his versatile skill set, averaging 8.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists including several highlight reel passes. Undrafted rookie Scott Machado, who led the NCAA in assists, also showed his passing ability averaging 5.6 assists. Finally, Donatas Montiejunas, a rookie drafted last year, was very impressive. He averaged 16 points on 62% shooting along with 8 rebounds.

All these players proved they can make an impact on the game and could be dangled as trade bait to Orlando in exchange for Dwight. But if that doesn’t work, Houston will have a team filled with young talent.

3. Big name struggles

A number of players from the past two drafts with high expectations had a rough Summer League. Dion Waiters, Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger, Austin Rivers, and Derrick Williams all had their struggles. Waiters shot just 30% from the field, which won’t quiet critics who thought the Cavs took him too high at fourth overall.

Drummond wasn’t awful, but he lived up to his reputation of a lackluster motor and horrendous free throw shooting (he air balled a free throw wide left). Drummond averaged just 7 points and 5 rebounds to go with his 25% free throw shooting and seemed to be hesitant to use his elite athleticism on offense, resorting instead to fade away midrange shots. Not exactly what you want to see from a player drafted solely for his hops and strength.

Dunks like these didn’t happen enough for Drummond during his Summer League stint.

Robinson rebounded the ball excellently, pulling down nearly 10 a game, but he struggled mightily on offense, converting just 34% of his shots. He also blocked only 1 shot in five games. You have to expect more from the number 5 pick playing against the lowest level of NBA players.

Sullinger started off well in Orlando with a 20 point outing, but struggled in most of the other games, fueling the fire that critics lit when questioning his ability to score over the NBA’s lengthy and athletic players. In 9 games, Sullinger shot over 40% just three times. He rebounded well, but his offensive ceiling may be as more of a jump shooter, a la Glen Davis.

Austin Rivers only played two games, thanks to an injury, but was not impressive in either of them. He shot just 21% from the field, 1 of 8 from deep, and averaged 5.5 fouls per game. It’s a small sample size, but Rivers may not be a dominant scoring threat as quickly as previously thought.

Lastly, Derrick Williams, drafted second overall in 2011, did not perform well despite dropping nearly 15 pounds in the offseason. Williams had a tough time finding his shot, hitting just 35% of his field goals. After a less than impressive rookie season, a much improved year is not out of the question, but doesn’t appear too likely given his Summer League play.

4. Expect a step forward from Klay Thompson

Thompson is no Royce Whiter. Shave off that scruff, Klay!

In contrast to Williams, Thompson seems to be ready for a breakout season. After spending a week in Las Vegas practicing with Team USA, Thompson played two Summer League games and was fairly dominant. He hit 10 of 14 three point shots en route to averaging 20.5 points per game. Equally impressive were his

rebounding and assist numbers, as well as his defensive play. He grabbed 6 boards a game and dished out 4.5 assists, showing he’s more than just a catch and shoot player. With Monta Ellis’ departure, Klay will have more room to grow and show his complete game. His 1.5 blocks and steals each also points towards some defensive improvements. The Warriors could have found a gem with the 11th pick last year.

5. Don’t get too excited

The final and most important point is to take everything that happens in the Summer League not just with a grain of salt, but with the whole shaker. Too often in the past have players built up their hype by dominant Summer League performances only to disappoint in the regular season.

The most notable recent example is Anthony Randolph in 2009. Randolph was incredible in the Summer

Summer League was the highlight of Anthony Randolph’s career.

League, averaging 27 points on 61% shooting to go with 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. He followed that up with a fairly mediocre season, scoring 11.6 points on 44% shooting and getting 6.5 rebounds a game. Not terrible, but certainly a far cry from his summer stats. Since then Randolph has languished at the end of the bench due to his inconsistency and poor shot selection.

Josh Selby could be a prime example this year of why to temper Summer League excitement. 24 points per game on 56% shooting for a point guard are impressive numbers, but you have to put it in context of what it is. The style of Summer League games resemble street ball much more than a structured, slow paced NBA game. The competition is also at a whole different echelon, as most of the Summer League’s players are just scrapping for an invite to training camp. Of the few that earn that invite, even less will actually make an NBA roster. Furthermore, the role that players have on Summer League teams are generally far different than what it will be during the regular season. Selby will not be the star player on the Grizzlies next year. He won’t be given the green light to chuck up 8 threes a game as he did in Vegas. He won’t have the ball in his hands for 27 minutes a game.

It goes both ways. Even though Damian Lillard was great, he still may struggle in the regular season against faster, taller, stronger, more athletic players than he faced throughout the Summer League. And as a rookie, he won’t be the number one option on offense, particularly with LaMarcus Aldridge on his team.

Summer League is a whole different animal, so while it can offer hope that one day a player can bring a similar performance to an NBA game, they first must prove themselves during the actual NBA season to earn a role on their team that would put them in position to duplicate their summer numbers.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Summer League stats are no exception.

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Surprise, Surprise: The Knicks Screw Up Again

How about we throw away the greatest thing to happen to Knicks basketball in the last decade? Classic Knicks.

To the dismay of many Knicks fans, they let Jeremy Lin walk. He was one of the biggest surprises in NBA history and parlayed his success into New York legend status in 26 games and 50 days. That’s all it took for his jersey to become the No. 2 selling jersey this year in the NBA.

People will say he took advantage of New York, turning the media and the hype into a $25 million payday. But the Knicks used him back, and went further.

‘Linsanity’ renewed New York’s interest in a flailing Knicks team at the time, which the Knicks then used to settle their cable tv dispute and charge millions more in money. MSG’s stock platooned and Knicks’ ticket and apparel sales skyrocketed during Lin’s amazing run. They even sold out next season’s season tickets early because of him.

Still they let Lin leave. They let the most marketable, exciting player in Knicks basketball since Patrick Ewing leave.


He’s going, going…gone.

With Lin, the Knicks could have become a global team, marketing themselves in Asia just as the Yao Ming-Houston Rockets did. But the Knicks could have done it better because well Houston is no New York. They could have had their own cable tv deal with China and you can be sure, companies would have paid big for those tv rights.

All this could have been reality had they kept Lin, and that’s even if he didn’t play as spectacular as he did before. He just had to be the Knicks starting point guard.

But they backed off because of $15 million owed to Lin in the third year of the deal would cause too much luxury tax penalties. Plain stupid. The Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable franchise. They would have made all that money back, and more.

Knicks owner, James Dolan, let the decision become personal, feeling cheated by Lin’s dealing. Even stupider. Last week when Houston offered Lin a 4-year, ~$29 million deal, with the last two years worth $9.3 million each, the Knicks said they would “absolutely” match and Lin would “absolutely” be their starting point guard next season. A few days later, Lin and the Rockets signed a 3-year, $25 million deal with the last year at $14.8 million.

Dolan felt betrayed. He felt the Harvard kid took advantage of him by turning the leverage that the Knicks were ‘definitely’ going to bring him back into a heftier contract.

Dolan and the Knicks should know better though. You don’t show your hand in a poker game, it’s as simple as that. The Knicks did, and Jeremy Lin, just like every other NBA player would, did the smart thing and upped the antae. The NBA’s a business.

The Knicks played it that way too, by not offering Lin a contract when free agency began. Instead they told him to find his worth on the open market, and they would match. Well he did, and they didn’t.

Now the Knicks are left with Raymond Felton as their starting point guard. Does anyone think Felton will make the Knicks relevant? Will he make money for them off-the-court? Hey most importantly, will he give them the best chance to win? He wasn’t a better player than Lin last year, and won’t be going forward. Lin’s on the rise, and Felton has reached his peak.

You have to feel for Knicks fan though. Letting Lin go was another typical dumbfounded move by Knicks management. In the last two years, they gave Amare Stoudemire 5 years, $100 million and Tyson Chandler 4 years, $58 million. Hey Carmelo, now those are some “ridiculous” contracts.

Well at least the Knicks are consistent.

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Why The Knicks Need to Keep ‘Linsanity’

It was surreal. It was possibly the story of the year. It was ‘Linsanity’. The kid nobody gave a chance, undrafted and twice cut, took Broadway by storm ,creating a buzz around Knicks basketball that has been absent for far too long.

But now its decision time for the Knicks. Lin has signed a 3-year, $25. 1 million offer sheet with Houston, giving New York till Tuesday 11:59 pm to match that offer and retain him.


Remember Lin’s 38 point, dazzling display he schooled the Lakers with? Simply amazing.

It looks increasingly like they won’t and if that’s the case, it will be another wrong move by Knicks management in a decade plagued by them.

Instead the Knicks have acquired 28-year-old Raymond Felton in a sign-and-trade, giving him a 3 year, $10 million deal.

Seriously Raymond Felton? This is New York City, the mecca of basketball and the biggest media market in the US, if not the world, and you want Raymond Felton as your starting point guard?

Felton averaged a career low 11.4 ppg last season and is a career 41.2% shooter from the field. Portland fans spent last season closing their eyes every time he touched the ball, afraid of what he’d do. Hey New York, how does it feel to take Portland’s leftovers?

So what Jeremy Lin played only 35 games, starting 25 of those, for New York. Those 25 games were probably the most anyone has cared about the Knicks in the last decade. Lin made the Knicks relevant. Fans everywhere were tuning into to watch ‘Linsanity’. Even people who didn’t watch the NBA, wanted to see the young phenom. He was a star in a city built for stars.

Lin’s run was no fluke. You can’t fake those aggressive drives to the rim and the vision behind those chris-paul-like lobs to Tyson Chandler. You can’t fake that swagger and confidence that are necessary to surviving in the NBA. And you can’t fake an 18.2 ppg and 7.7 apg average over 25 starts.

The reality is that the Knicks had a .600 win percentage in Lin’s 25 starts. Had Lin started all 66 games, their win percentage would have been good for a division title, the number four seed in the East over Boston, and home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Carmelo Anthony has been one of Jeremy Lin’s biggest believers

Sure Lin had his problems with turnovers but most point guards do early on in their career. With great players like Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Jason Kidd, and Tyson Chandler around him, Lin’s game will only get better. The 23-year-old is on the rise. And on top of it all, his marketability is off-the-charts.

The Knicks’ biggest worry of resigning Lin is the $75 million they will have committed to four players in Lin, Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, in 2014-15. Along with other players on the roster, even if they were all at the veteran’s minimum, the Knicks would surely warrant tens of millions of dollars in luxury tax penalties. Let’s be real, this is New York and they’ll make that money back.

But what if they don’t want to pay that extra money in 2014-15? They’ll have the expiring contracts of Stoudemire, Chandler, Anthony, and Lin. In a league where expiring contracts are valuable trade assets, the Knicks should be able to trade away at least one of those expiring contracts and get themselves close to the salary cap limit, if not under it.

The Knicks want to win now and are built to do it with a core of Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler. Carmelo’s in his prime, Stoudemire’s on the decline, and Chandler has never had much of an offensive game.. The Knicks need another star to win. They need Lin. If they decide to stick with Felton, then they’re fine with mediocrity, a number five or six seed in the East every year, and annual first round exits.

The clock’s not just ticking on Tuesday’s 11:59 pm deadline to match Lin’s offer, but also on the Knicks chances to stay relevant.

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