Jeremy Lin's contract in perspective

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
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Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
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Is three years and $25 million too much to pay Jeremy Lin?

If he's a starting-quality guard, that rate seems to be about average. Below is a sample of what starting point guards earn in the NBA. Where does Jeremy Lin, with a contract averaging 8.4 million a year, fit in?
  • Chris Paul, $17.79 million
  • Deron Williams, avg $20 million
  • Derrick Rose, $15.5 million
  • Russell Westbrook, $12.9 million
  • Tony Parker, $12.5 million
  • Rajon Rondo, $11 million
  • Jose Calderon, $10.5 million
  • Steve Nash, $9 million
  • Rodney Stuckey, $8.5 million
  • Goran Dragic, $8.5 million
  • Devin Harris, $8.5 million
  • George Hill, $8 million
  • Mike Conley, $7.3 million
  • Kyle Lowry, $5.8 million
  • Jarrett Jack, $5.4 million
  • Andre Miller, $5 million
  • Luke Ridnour, $4 million
  • Ray Felton, $3.3 million

At 23 and still improving, it’s fair to say that he Lin's potential is worth more than the likes of Jarrett Jack and Andre Miller -- two steady, helpful veterans with no upside. In his 26 game stint as a starter he posted a better PER than George Hill, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic and Rajon Rondo.

PER is just a baseline statistic. Still, it’s a good indicator that Lin can play. But let’s say that Lin doesn’t produce like he did when Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were injured and thus left him with bountiful opportunities to find shots for himself and others. Even if he settles into being a solid starting point guard for the next few years -- remember he’s younger and has had less time to develop in the NBA than Conley, Dragic and Hill -- that would be good value.

The only players who produced like Lin last season and make less than the Rockets were willing to pay Lin were all either on rookie scale contracts or named Kyle Lowry. And Lowry is due for a raise.

When it comes to useful starting point guards you didn't draft, it’s almost impossible to find one that will be cheaper than the price the Rockets set for Lin. Because they are capped out, the Knicks can't acquire another point guard through free agency at Lin's cost, and they also lack a first-round draft pick in 2013. So it's not a choice between Lin and another $8 million per year point guard, it's between Lin and whatever they can shoehorn into Kidd or Felton's $3 million salary spot, sign on a minimum deal, or trade for.

Long story short: Instead of paying Lin the going rate for a starting point guard, the Knicks ended up signing Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, two players who ranked at the bottom of starting point guards in the NBA, for nearly equivalent cost next season.

All but three point guards (Lowry, Jarrett Jack and Jordan Farmar) with a PER above league average (15.0) make $8 million or more.

This is a simple fact of the NBA marketplace.
Beckley Mason is an NBA contributor for ESPN.com.

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