Knicks turn focus to current team

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It came down to dollars and sense.

That's the message the New York Knicks delivered on Monday as GM Glen Grunwald made his first public comments about the team's decision to let Jeremy Lin go to the Houston Rockets in the offseason.

Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson both wished Lin well in Houston, but also stressed that they were happy with their current point guard, Raymond Felton.

"Basically, it comes down to the fact that Houston made a commitment to him that we weren't prepared to make," Grunwald said on Monday, making reference to the 3-year, $25.1 million offer the Rockets made to Lin last July. "But I'm very happy for Jeremy that things worked out for him personally and for his family and I wish him the best.

"I'm more excited for our team, the team we assembled right now. ... We're very excited and optimistic about this coming year."

Added Woodson: "I'm not going to discuss Jeremy Lin. I think as a franchise we wish Jeremy nothing but the best. It's a process that we went through and we were able to get a player by the name of Raymond Felton, and a guy by the name of Jason Kidd, a Pablo (Prigioni) in here. ... As an organization and as coach I wish Jeremy nothing but the best."

Back in July, the Knicks decided not to match Houston's offer to Lin, which included a $14.8 million payment in Year 3.

If the Knicks matched the offer, they would have been subject to a luxury tax in the third year, potentially bringing their total out-of-pocket cost for the team's salary to about $43 million in 2014-15.
So the team decided to let him walk to Houston and instead obtained Felton in a sign-and-trade with Portland.

Felton thrived in a previous stint with the Knicks, averaging 17 points and nine assists in 54 games during the 2010-11 season. He was sent to Denver in February of that year in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

The 28-year-old had a subpar season in Portland last year. He admittedly came into camp out of shape and averaged just 11.5 points and 6.5 assists on 41 percent shooting.

"I was out of shape when we first went there," Felton said on Monday at the team's annual media day. "... I'm in shape now, ready to go and I've got a big, big chip on my shoulder. So I look forward to this season and I'm definitely happy to be back in this New York Knicks jersey."

The Knicks also acquired veterans Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Kidd in the offseason, and are expected to bring 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace into training camp.

Some have questioned the Knicks' rationale in bringing in so many players seemingly in the twilight of their career. But Woodson explained on Monday that he, Grunwald and team ownership wanted to surround the team's core of Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler with veterans.

"We felt that we needed veteran pieces around those guys," Woodson said. "(There aren't) young guys who are winning NBA titles."

The Knicks, of course, last won a title in the 1972-73 season. Woodson said on Monday that he believes that this year's team -- if healthy -- has a "legitimate" chance to end the drought and win the NBA championship.

"I think we've got a legitimate shot here, as (much as) anybody in the NBA this season, to reach that goal," the coach said.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.