On the same day Jeremy Lin, arguably the Knicks' most popular player, reportedly agreed to sign an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, a Hall of Fame point guard reportedly agreed to take his talents to the Big Apple.
OK, let's take a step back. The 39-year-old Jason Kidd the Knicks reportedly signed to a three-year, $9 million deal isn't the same Jason Kidd that averaged near-double-doubles for the better part of his prime. He's more of an upgraded Baron Davis -- a wily veteran past his prime who is best served as a very solid backup.
So what does Kidd's signing mean for Lin and his future with the Knicks?
According to multiple reports, the Knicks will still match the Rockets big offer for Lin: a reported four-year deal worth in excess of $30 million. The deal, according to reports, will pay Lin about $5 million for the first two seasons, and about $10 million for the next two, the final year being a team option.
The Knicks, already on the hook for over $67 million between Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert (team option) for the 2014-2015 season, would theoretically be right around the luxury tax level (projected to be in the neighborhood of $75 million) with Lin's $10 million salary. And, keep in mind, teams that are “repeat offenders” owe $4.25 for every dollar they go over the luxury tax threshold, meaning every other player on the roster would virtually be signed for more than four-times their contract amount.
Still, all indications are that after Lin's breakout season last year in New York, he will be back, and will be the starting point guard. So Kidd's role will likely be a hybrid of a backup point guard, and a veteran mentor.
In four-plus seasons with the Mavericks, Kidd worked with a pair of point guards in similar situations to Lin: Jose Barea and Rodrigue Beaubois. In the 2007-2008 season, Barea was 23, in his second season in the NBA; Beaubois' rookie season was in 2009-10, Kidd's third season with the team; Lin will be 24 at the start of the 2012-2013 season, entering his third year in the league.
Both Barea and Beaubois showed signs of improvement with Kidd on the roster. First, Barea's numbers, pre-Kidd (2006-2007) and with Kidd (2007-2011).
Barea's minutes jumped in 2008-2009, Kidd's first full season with the team. By 2010-2011, Barea averaged career highs in points (16.8) and assists (6.8) per 36 minutes. He parlayed the career year into a four-year deal at about $4.5 million per year with the Timberwolves.
Beaubois' numbers, all with Kidd on the Mavericks' roster:
After a solid rookie season, where Beaubois averaged 20.4 points per 36 minutes, the Guadeloupe native battled injury his second year, delaying his progress. He did show flashes during the 2011-2012 season, though, scoring at least 10 points with at least 5 assists 10 times. And the potential Beaubois showed may have been enough to land him the Mavs' starting point guard job next season.
The big difference between the young Mavs guards and Lin will be that Kidd projects to be a backup for the first time in his career. While Barea and Beaubois learned as Kidd's backups, Lin will be learning from the veteran as the team's starter.
Of course, there is a flip side here: the Knicks don't match the Rockets' robust offer for Lin.
For Lin, that would obviously mean that the team that cut him eight months ago would be employing him as their starting point guard. Keep in mind, Houston is awfully thin at the point, having reportedly lost Goran Dragic to the Suns in free agency and Kyle Lowry via trade to the Toronto Raptors, both in the last two days.
For the Knicks, it would mean a 39-year-old starting point guard for the 2012-13 season. The next best options in free agency right now are Aaron Brooks and Raymond Felton, and with J.R. Smith and Steve Novak both priorities, it's highly unlikely the Knicks would reach back into their checkbooks to offer money to a pair of guards who haven't exactly been dynamite of late.
Can Kidd still start? In 2010-2011, he was the starting point guard for the NBA champions. Last year, he started for a playoff team, but put up anemic numbers, averaging career lows in points (6.2), assists (5.5) rebounds (4.1) and minutes (28.7) per game.
Don't expect that Kidd to be starting at point on opening night, though. The Knicks mentality is to win, and to win now. That was the thought process behind teaming Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler. Knicks ownership hasn't been shy about paying big luxury tax dollars in the past, and the opportunity to team Lin with a trio of superstars and a Hall of Fame mentor for the next three years is too good an opportunity to pass up.