Knicks have an easy decision to make with Lin

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Knicks have an easy decision to make with Lin

Sometimes the basketball gods smile upon an organization andthey hand it an easy choice that turns into a simple decision a no-brainer ifyou will.And thats what the New York Knicks have in front of themright now with Jeremy Lin.RELATED: AP -- For Knicks, match Lin or regret if he goes
You gotta let him go.What the Knicks must decide by Tuesday night is whether ornot they will match a three-year, 25.1 million offer sheet given to Lin by theHouston Rockets. Those numbers, on the surface, are daunting enough. But uponinspection, they get even worse.Not only is 8-plus million per season awfully high for aplayer who has started only 25 NBA games in his career, but in the third yearof the deal Lins salary balloons to 15 million.That number alone puts Lin into the superstar money category.But in a double-whammy of sorts, that figure also would likely put the Knickswell into the luxury tax area and could cost them an extra 35 to 45million.RELATED: Jeremy Lin 2012 game logs
Thats not Lins fault, of course, but its hisburden.Teams that are over the luxury tax must pay a significantpenalty, and the amount depends on how far over the tax a team is. The moreyoure over, the more you have to pay, in other words.Lin was a one-of-a-kind story last season. After gettingwaived by the Warriors and Rockets, he was signed by the Knicks. And whatfollowed was one of the most unexpected and thrilling runs the league has everseen: A virtual unknown leading one of the leagues marquee franchises to theplayoffs.With the Knicks roster hit by injury, Lin stepped into bigminutes and delivered in such a big way that it garnered the attention of bothhard-core NBA fans and casual ones.Whether people believe it or not, Lin hadnt proven that inhis year-and-a-half playing for the Warriors, Rockets and early in his New Yorktenure. He has certainly proven that now.Is he a star? Most dont believe so. Can he be a good teamsstarting point guard over the course of seasons? Youll get lots of Nosthere. Is he a solid backup who can start for you in a pinch? There are manywho think thats where Lin might be at.It is a little tougher projecting Lins future and where hecan go from here because nobody thought he would get this far in the firstplace. So, hes already blown through the expectation-ceiling. Whos to say hecant do it again?But there are also very real issues with Lin like the factthat perhaps his greatest strength is his biggest weakness: Toughness. Over thecourse of my time covering the NBA, Ive rarely seen a player who is anytougher than Lin.He is a physical defender with more size than you think onthe perimeter. He can drive and take contact. Nobody in the league dives on thefloor or gets knocked to it more than Lin.One of the reasons, Lin has made it this far is because heis a relentless competitor, a nonstop worker, and a basketball junkie at heart.Its bad grammar, but Lin cant not play.He will continue to play this way because he still has a lotto prove, and its in his nature anyway.Bottom line is I just cant see him staying consistentlyhealthy over the course of his career. And, yes, I know Lin will play hurt. Ionce saw him practice for a stretch with some kind of shoulder contraptionwrapdraped from one side of his body to the next.Another thing is this -- its difficult to see Lin being thesame caliber point guard as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams,Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo or Tony Parker.Those, after all, could be considered legitimate 15-millplayers, which again is what Lin would be making for the Knicks in Year No. 3.Leaving aside, of course, that 35 to 45 million theyll likely have to pay inpenalty.And if you go further, where does Lin stack up against pointguards such as Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Mike Conley, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson andStephen Curry? Some Lin backers might tell you hes right there withthem.Others will tell you hes not in that group.Of course, what complicates the decision s is Linsnon-basketball appeal. Few players have captured the attention of fans andnon-fans alike like Lin. Hes a phenomena. Still, if were talking about Lin and the decision theKnicks have to make in basketball terms only its pretty obvious what theyvegot to do. And it sure seems like they know it.Theyve signed Jason Kidd and are also acquiring RaymondFelton. Most perceive that acquiring Felton means the Knicks will not matchHoustons exorbitant offer sheet.Letting Lin walk would be painful and disappointing in manyways for the organization and Knicks fans.But in basketball terms, it will be as sound a financialmove as the Knicks have made recently.

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.