A Knicks Retrospective on Jeremy Lin
The first thing to examine is Lin’s performance last season versus his Knick replacement Raymond Felton:
Lin: 41% FG, 33.9% 3PT, 78.5% FT, 3 REB, 6.1 AST, 1.6 STL, 2.9 TO
Felton: 42.7% FG, 36% 3PT, 78.9% FT, 2.9 REB, 5.5 AST, 1.4 STL, 2.3 TO
Lin: 14.9 PER, 53.8 TS%, 49 eFG%, 18.8 TOV%, .099 WS/48
Felton: 15.2 PER, 50.5 TS%, 48 eFG%, 14.2 TOV%, .087 WS/48
The punchline here is that whether you consider basic or advance statistics, Lin and Felton had very comparable seasons. However, the one difference maker is Felton's lower TOV%, which is a measure of turnovers per 100 possessions. This is an critical stat for any point guard, but particularly for the Knicks. Last season, the Knicks used exceptional three point shooting and ball control to win games. In fact, the Knicks made more threes (10.9 per game) and turned the ball over less times (11.6 per game) than any other team. As a poor rebounding team, the Knicks used their three point prowess to score more per possession while not giving the ball away as their blueprint. Felton was actually the much better fit for this system. Another caveat here is games played - Lin played in all 82 compared to only 68 for Felton. Other than performance, the other factor that comes into play in this comparison is cost.
Houston wanted Lin so badly, they gave him what was dubbed a "poison pill" contract. While modest in size ($25 million for 3 years), the structure of the contract was designed to make it impossible for the Knicks to match. Lin was to earn $5 million per season in his first two years and $15 million in the third. Due to the stricter salary cap restrictions in the new CBA and the Knicks' contracts currently on the books, the total cost for matching Houston's offer to Lin would have been $43 million. There was no way the Knicks were ponying up that much money for a player with less than a season's experience and especially when Raymond Felton was an alternative at 4 years for $15 million. That aside, it did work out for both parties. Lin's ball dominating style would have likely clashed with that of Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith. Felton's career was in a downward spiral in Portland, and he turned it around with the Knicks. Though, that isn't to say that things will be easy sailing for these two going forward.
Going into the 2013-4 season, both players face their own challenges. Lin recently lost his starting job to Pat Beverley, and Felton must take on more responsibility with the retirement of Jason Kidd. Fans of the Knicks have been berating front office decisions for years, and most thought the sky was falling after Lin's departure. But the Knicks had a very successful season last year and have added more pieces to the puzzle. Houston obviously added Dwight Howard to play alongside James Harden. It's rare that a move results in everyone being happy, but it looks like this was one of them. Unless the Knicks and Rockets meet in the finals - what a spectacle that would be.