Losing Lin would be devastating, to say the least. His impact and value both on and off the court makes him a key potential piece to the puzzle moving forward. Whether he played alongside Felton or simply shared time at the point guard position, Lin would be likely to continue his positive contributions.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Harvard graduate's return, however, the Knicks have undeniably been aggressive in aiming to improve the squad this summer. By surrounding their stars with veteran role players like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Thomas, New York has begun to prove they are dedicated to a "win now" mentality.
That is because veterans (along with defense) ultimately win championships. No longer headlining attractions, the likes of Kidd and Camby are poised to help spell players like Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler with key contributions off the bench.
Whether a player from the core group the Knicks are building is coming in to help accomplish something special, or simply returning to a familiar place, many of these guys have something in common. Many from this group have a "New York State of Mind."
A Brooklyn native himself, Anthony pushed his way to the Big Apple with the goal of bringing a championship title to his hometown in mind. Hungry for his chance to shine under the bright lights, Stoudemire was a pioneer of sorts when he began a domino effect by being the first prominent player to take a chance on the Knicks and their effort to return to greatness.
Both players have an immense amount pride not only in themselves and what they're trying to accomplish, but also succeeding on behalf of the city.
But the pride and hope for something special in New York City doesn't stop there. A fashion and photography connoisseur, Chandler brought his winning mentality to town not only to build his own individual brand, but also because he believes Knicks-nation deserves to experience greatness once again.
One of the more popular players the NBA has had in recent years, Kidd (like his former Mavericks teammate Chandler), brings a championship win to boast about in the locker room. Aside from understanding how to lead his team to the ultimate prize, the Hall of Fame point guard also knows how much this market values greatness, after helping the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in the past.
Though he certainly has both his hot and cold streaks, J.R. Smith embraces The Garden crowd either way. The Freehold, New Jersey native enjoys playing in front of his family and fans on a nightly basis. What's more, he feeds off of the fans' energy and thrives in the heat of the big moments. The Knicks may ride and die with the swingman at times, but Smith is a big time player.
While Steve Novak is a small-town kid himself, he too has become a fan-favorite, able to pace the second unit by making it rain from long-range off the bench. Both Smith and Novak struggled for New York in last season's playoffs, and are certainly coming back hoping to prove they can part of something bigger than the city has seen in quite a while.
Though many members of this Knicks squad are different since Felton last donned orange and blue in 2010, he should fit right in with this group as well. Traded perhaps pre-maturely, Felton returns to New York craving at a chance at redemption, hoping to pick up right where he left off, spearheading a successful and surprising run.
And then there's Camby and Thomas, a pair of veteran players who know the sweet smell and taste of the Big Apple success all too well. Two key components to the Knicks' Eastern Conference Championship in 2000, both big man are surely to be in everyone's ears, reminding them how gratifying winning in New York and satisfying this hungry fan base will be.
It would be great if Jeremy Lin were to come along for the ride, but should he not return, at least the future still looks bright for New York. Bringing in a few proven veterans amongst their star power, the Knicks have only built on their already present success. The core group formed is not only hungry as ever to win it all, but seems to understand how important it is to a market like the Big Apple.