I admit, my Saturday night was a strange night from the get-go. While at work (my day job is at a TV station down in Georgia, so working weekends is commonplace), I began to hear the rumblings that the Knicks could be bringing in Raymond Felton. None of that was really a surprise, though. The team has been connected to him in some capacity all off-season. Never once did I think it had something to do with the team potentially passing on Jeremy Lin.
There are a couple of important events that took place before I found out about the sign-and-trade. The first, the Mets lost. That’s all I’m going to say about it, because I said so. The second, we made a collective decision to go out to the bars after the shows to blow off some steam from work.
That’s what brought me to a bar in Savannah properly named “World of Beer”. Literally, this place has 500+ different types of beer and enough TVs to make your mind melt. The first one, naturally, was showing Mets highlights. Beer me. Next thing I know, I look up and the ESPN feed flashes “Developing Story: Felton to Knicks in sign-and-trade, Lin out”.
The story shows the details of the sign-and-trade. Knicks send F Jared Jeffries and the Dan Gadzuric contract to Portland for Felton and F/C Kurt Thomas.
Felton’s contract is likely going to be a three-year, $9-$10 million dollar contract. Coupling that with Jason Kidd’s similar contract, the Knicks had seemingly priced themselves out of the Jeremy Lin sweepstakes. The same player the team had said they would match an offer sheet of up to “$1 billion” and head coach Mike Woodson called his starting point guard going into the season as recently as Wednesday.
Whoa! I’m the same guy that wrote no more than 10 days ago about how the Knicks were prepared to match Lin’s offer sheet. The team officially received the paperwork from the Rockets, meaning they will have to make a decision by 11:59PM Tuesday. At this point in time, there are a lot of people saying they won’t match, but there is still skepticism among well-informed media members that the Knicks could still match.
Felton could, in theory, play some shooting guard for the Knicks if the team did elect to bring back Lin. But, the team must be concerned with the salary the Rockets slapped on the young point guard. The team is offering him more than $1 million for every start he made last year.
I will say this, though. Props to the Knicks for softening the blow of potentially losing Jeremy Lin with bringing back one of the all-time favorites. Age be damned, I challenge ANY Knicks fan to tell me their not excited to see ol’ reliable, Kurt Thomas, back in the orange and blue. We are much more prepared today than we ever were to finally compete for that 1999 title!
Joking aside, if Kurt Thomas can’t mentor Amar’e Stoudemire, nobody can. He’s the OG of the mid-range jumper. He defines getting the most out of his talent and abilities. He doesn’t have to play one minute on the court for this team to make a difference. The leadership he brings and the wealth of knowledge he has about this league is what is important here. Thomas and Jason Kidd are not only going to play roles on this team on the floor, they’re also going to be an extension of the coaching staff. I have never in my life been so excited for an 11th or 12th man on the roster.
Hard fact: the Knicks aren’t better today than they were yesterday. No player on the market had the type of ceiling and potential that Jeremy Lin brought to the point guard position. Playing at their highest levels, Raymond Felton will be a downgrade from Lin.
However, if the goal is to find a point guard that will better distribute the ball to the stars and shooters, Felton is probably better equipped than Lin. The team will look to get 8-10 assists a night from Felton, and any scoring he provides will be nice, but not anticipated. Felton may fit the puzzle a little better than Lin did, even if its a drop off in talent.
And, we got Kurt Thomas back. We’re so old that this could be fun…right?