After signing with Knicks, will Jason Kidd be replacing or mentoring Jeremy Lin?

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Linsanity, meet Kiddsanity? (Getty Images)

The New York Knicks missed out on 38-year-old Steve Nash so they decided to go even older signing Jason Kidd (39). Why? Because John Stockton already retired I guess. The question is, will Kidd be replacing, or mentoring Jeremy Lin, as the Knicks envisioned Nash doing?

That question will likely be answered in what the Knicks are willing to match. According to reports, the Houston Rockets are offering Lin four-year, $30 million backloaded deal intended to make it difficult for the Knicks to re-sign Lin because of the luxury tax. But according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Knicks are strongly indicating they'll match any offer for Lin. Because it's the Knicks, and they laugh in the general direction of your luxury tax.

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But ... the Rockets have watched multiple point guards slip through their fingers. As have the Mavericks. Both Texas teams are desperate for a point man and likely willing to spend to get one. And the market is thin. So thin that we're talking about Raymond Felton being the next best target for teams. The best point guards have already been snatched up with mostly scraps remaining, and I think Felton just ate those scraps. In a weird way, the Knicks signing Kidd might've hurt their chances to some degree of re-signing Lin because it brought the Mavericks much more into play with their need for a point guard.

(Also, fun fact: The Rockets are looking at paying Lin something like $30 million. I feel like not enough people are mentioning the fact that they cut him eight months ago. To go from cutting him to paying him a multiyear multimillion dollar deal. Ouch, Daryl Morey. Not a feather in the cap.)

But the Knicks intend to match and retain Lin. As they should. Not only did Lin set the NBA and the Big Apple on fire last season with his crazy rise, but he also could be a pretty darn good point guard. I think the jury might be out to a degree there, but for the most part, things are trending well for Lin.

The Knicks might have to pay, and pay well, but come on, they're the Knicks. They've been the biggest luxury tax spender since ... forever. Having to open the wallet for Lin isn't the issue. They'll pay if they have to, and they have to, because they don't have a point guard. And you saw last season the struggles they had with no point guard. They tried Toney Douglas, Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert and even gave Mike Bibby a couple shots. They need Lin, which means they'll keep Lin.

Kidd signing with the Knicks wasn't Plan B or a backup plan if Lin left, or even competition to push him. Kidd has said he's prepared to slide into a backup point guard role, intending to do it for wherever Deron Williams landed. As that didn't happen, now Kidd can do the same for Lin.

The Knicks seem to prefer the idea of a player like Nash, or Kidd, to mentor Lin in the art of playing the pick-and-roll, managing the floor with other scorers and learning how to lead with the ball in his hands. Point-guarding in the NBA is an art, and Nash and Kidd are two of the league's greatest painters. Having Kidd just to impart a little something on Lin could be extremely important, as will be Kidd's steady play and leadership in helping fit Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in.

Keep in mind, Lin is 23 and really played his rookie season last year. Technically, it was Year 2, but he started his first games and exploded as one of the league's most popular players in about a two-week span. He struggled with turnovers, ball control and floor leadership while commanding a complex New York offense with Melo and Stoudemire. Adding Kidd as an extra voice and someone that can show the way is a wise move.

Look at the impact Derek Fisher had on Russell Westbrook during the NBA playoffs. Westbrook, one of the league's most prolific turnover machines, reined in his carelessness for the postseason and played much more controlled, smart basketball. That's largely a credit to Westbrook, but he wasn't shy in pointing to Fisher's leadership and advice being a big part too.

And here's the thing: Kidd can actually still play. He might be 39, which is old in professional sports terms, but he's as crafty as ever, can knock down an open 3 and putting him in a 15-20-minute-a-night role could make him one of the best backup point guards in the league. Assuming they re-sign Lin, the Knicks could go from having one of the league's worst point guard situations to one of the best.

What's funny about Kidd choosing the Knicks over Dallas is that in terms of chasing a championship in his advanced age, he probably made the right choice. With the way the Mavs have been obliterated in this free-agency period, Kidd's decision to head to New York, play with Lin, Melo, Stoudemire and old buddy Tyson Chandler, makes a ton of sense.

A ton of sense as long as the Knicks re-sign Lin. Otherwise the Knicks have a 39-year-old starting point guard with no real backup. Then again, at this point, the Mavs would happily take it.

 
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