There was a lot of buzz on Twitter today suggesting that Steve Nash doesn’t have much interest in playing in New York, eliminating him as an option for the Knicks in 2012-13. You can ask five different insiders and likely get five different responses about Nash’s short list of destinations, but if the Twitter-verse has this one right, it doesn’t look like Steve Nash will be playing home games at Madison Square Garden any time soon.
With that in mind, it’s important to ask: is it Jeremy Lin or bust for the New York Knicks at point guard?
Remember, as it stands today, Toney Douglas is the only player healthy on the Knicks roster with significant time spent playing the point. Mike Bibby will likely not be re-signed in free agency, while it still appears Baron Davis’s career is over after his devastating knee injury suffered in the playoffs. Iman Shumpert could be a starting point guard one day, but he is likely to miss at least the beginning of the season after he tore his ACL in Game 1 against the Heat.
Another important factor into the Knicks manuverability this off-season involves if they’ll have their full Mid-Level exception or not. A hearing is still upcoming in regards to Jeremy Lin’s Bird Rights, which could play a pivotal factor in regards to the Knicks ability to offer a free agent a full Mid-Level or only a portion of it. Again, keep in mind, thanks to new rules under this CBA, regardless of what is decided in the Bird Rights hearing, the Knicks will be able to go over the salary cap to lock up players who they picked up off waivers, which, in this case, is Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak.
Let’s assume the Knicks do, indeed, get their full Mid-Level through Lin’s Bird Rights hearings. The names in the free agency market are very slim in terms of players that would be willing to play at that salary slot. For starters, Deron Williams will get a max-contract from someone this off-season (even money is on Dallas), so he is not even close to being an option.
The options the Knicks would be looking at include a return engagement with Raymond Felton, the possiblity of Andre Miller (though he may get a contract worth more than the Mid from, say, Chicago, who will be looking for a stop-gap starter for Derrick Rose), or Kirk Hinrich. I didn’t include Goran Dragic in that group because the buzz around the league is Houston not only plans on locking him up long-term, but for an average salary above the Mid-Level exception.
Of the three true possibilities listed in Felton, Miller and Hinrich, none are exceptionally better than Jeremy Lin, or better at all for that matter. After those guys, the Knicks would be looking at the bargin bin of the Jonny Flynn’s and John Lucas’s, which would be a significant drop and should only be considered as back-up type players.
Considering the uncertainty of the Knicks true salary cap situation, the unlikelihood of a Steve Nash taking less money to play in New York, a first round draft pick this year or a wealth of options on the free agent market, its time for Knicks fans to begin to understand that the situation laying in front of them is that Jeremy Lin isn’t only the best option to play the point, he may be the only option.
New York has been saying all the right things since the season ended in regards to Lin and his future, even though his agent continues to remind us that nothing is for certain. However, the Knicks may have to understand that Lin is in the position of power in their negotiations. The market is pretty dry.
One year ago, if you were to tell me that Jeremy Lin would be the most important player the Knicks could sign in free agency, I would’ve called you crazy.
Now, it would seem crazy if the Knicks didn’t bring him back, and quickly.