Although the New York Knicks have consistently stated that they would match any qualifying offer that a team extends to restricted Free Agent point guard Jeremy Lin, the team may be plotting a revised strategy, according to long-time NBA writer for Yahoo Sports, Marc J. Spears. Saturday, Spears posted on his Twitter account, that according to his sources the Knicks could be close to completing a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, that would send veteran point guard Raymond Felton back to New York, for his second stint with the squad. If that deal happens, the Knicks would not match the offer sheet that Lin has received from the Houston Rockets.
The report does not mention what the Blazers may want in return for the unrestricted Free Agent, who came to Portland before the start of last season as the Trail Blazers sent Andre Miller to the Denver Nuggets. The 28-year-old guard completed his seventh campaign in the Association at the end of the regular season. Portland was his fourth team in about 18 months, after spending his first five seasons in the NBA with the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats chose Felton with the fifth pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, but allowed him to walk away from the club when he became a Free Agent in the Summer of 2010. Former Knicks Team President Donnie Walsh, signed Felton and fellow Free Agent, forward Amar’e Stoudemire to contracts and they helped New York get off to a good start, as well as putting the franchise back into the Playoff mix for the first time in eons.
The point guard flourished with the Knicks as he put up the best numbers of his career, starting all 54 games he played in and averaging 17.1 points, 9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per contest. He would not finish the campaign with New York, as he was part of the package that brought All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.
If the report pans out, New York has a major decision on their plate, which could affect the franchise for the next few years; do they go with the proven player in Felton, or roll the dice and gamble that Lin can consistently perform the way he did in 25 starts this past season. While Lin was the “feel-good” story of the year in professional sports and enjoyed nationwide popularity, he lacks the track-record that proves he can play at the level he did as “LINSANITY” swept the country.
If I were to help Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald make his decision, I would strongly urge him to choose the player with the solid resume in Felton. The move would most likely not sit well with many Knicks fans, or fans of Lin, however even though Raymond Felton has reached his peak as a player, he has shown that he can lead a team through an entire season consistently. Lin was a twelfth player off the bench when circumstances forced former New York bench boss Mike D’Antoni to put Lin into a game at a critical point of the contest.
Lin showed great potential this past season, but given the choice that the Knicks reportedly have, the safer choice would be to go with Felton. Fifteen-years from now, Lin could be on his way to the Basketball Hall Of Fame, or a player that never reached the level he played at this past season and left the game a couple of years later. For a franchise looking to be a dominant force in the Eastern Conference next season, Lin is too big a gamble to choose over Felton.