If the New York Knicks wanted to assure people that they weren't worried about losing fans to the Brooklyn Nets, they've successfully executed their strategy. What better way to prove you aren't worried than to openly mock your fan base with every move of the offseason? Jeremy Lin was exciting. He captured the hearts and imaginations of New York and the basketball world in general. When he entered restricted free agency, he began negotiating with the Houston Rockets. Preliminary terms were leaked to the public. The Knicks repeatedly said they would match. The quote was "They will match any offer on Lin up to 1 billion dollars". So Houston reworked the contract to include a poison pill third season, and the Knicks promptly allowed Lin to leave.
The Knicks defended their move based on the cost, without the slightest bit of irony or awareness. This is the team that gave Amare Stoudemire a $100 million contract without an insurances against his problematic knees, and then threw away all of their worthwhile prospects to acquire Carmelo Anthony and give him $20 million a season. This is the team that exercised a team option for Chauncey Billups, only to amnesty him in the same offseason so they could give Tyson Chandler the biggest offer possible. For the Knicks to now point to their need for fiscal responsibility is simply absurd.
The Knicks then compounded the slap in their fans' faces by replacing Lin with the combo of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. Kidd and Felton are making a combined $6.5 million per season. For the first two years of Lin's contract, he'll earn a reported $8.3 million. The Knicks let their most exciting player leave over less than $2 million. And yes, the poison pill third season would have put New York in a difficult situation regarding their cap, but, as has been pointed out several other places, expiring contracts for serviceable players are generally a pretty good commodity at the trade deadline. All of that is before we even discuss that Jason Kidd is 39 years old and the Knicks signed him to a 3 year deal, or that Raymond Felton is generally nowhere near the player he was last time he donned a Knicks uniform.
Going into this season, all eyes should be on Carmelo Anthony. He is, as far as I'm concerned, the main reason the Knicks allowed Lin to leave. Carmelo never seemed to appreciate Lin stealing the spotlight, or the way Lin won the hearts of the New York in a way Carmelo never has. To follow that act, Carmelo demonstrated in the Olympics why New York gets frustrated with him. Carmelo excelled throughout the Olympics as a power forward. His skill set has always been amazing, and he showed an ability the thrive there. The Knicks, however, have $35 million per season tied up in Amare and Tyson Chandler, preventing Carmelo from spending much time at the four spot. Carmelo also touted that he would rather stay at his "natural position", despite demonstrating how naturally and effectively he fits as a four.
The Knicks are assumed to make the playoffs, primarily because the East remains the East and lacks the up-and-comers to knock New York out. While this seems like a perfect natural conclusion, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Knicks were to shock everyone and miss the playoffs. The Knicks are a patchwork of old players. Rasheed Wallace is a nice name, but anyone who watched him in Boston can't help but scoff at the signing. Amare is a shell of the player he was even two seasons ago. Marcus Camby is already injured and we aren't out of the preseason yet. This team is a house of cards, ready to collapse upon itself.
Carmelo Anthony catches a lot of flak, but he is supremely talented. He gets grief because his potential to be even better is glaringly obvious, but he can't seem to achieve that next level of greatness. But New York remains likely to be in the playoffs, probably as a 4 or 5 seed. And if that happens, I firmly believe it will be strictly due to the strength of Carmelo Anthony, with a tip of the cap to Chandler interior defense.