The New York Knicks view Jason Kidd as Jeremy Lin's teammate, not a replacement.
And once they finish the deal that would bring Kidd to New York, they can move on to keeping Lin.
They have a chance for a tantalizing tandem at point guard, the 39-year-old veteran who is one of the most accomplished ever at the position and the undrafted Ivy Leaguer who took the NBA by storm last season.
"If we can get Jeremy back, I would love that," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "Overall just to have him back him and Jason Kidd, him learning under Jason Kidd, for however long Jason Kidd is there, I accept that, we accept that, and that's a great opportunity for us."
Step one is nearing its completion. The Knicks and Kidd were still working Friday on terms of the deal that will get him from Dallas to New York, according to a person familiar with the details. Kidd would be able to make a higher salary if the teams are able to work out a sign-and-trade arrangement, rather than him signing in New York as a free agent.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because deals can't be signed until July 11. Coach Mike Woodson, in Las Vegas to watch Anthony and Tyson Chandler practice with the U.S. Olympic team, declined comment on the Knicks' moves until then.
That's when Lin will be able to sign the offer sheet he agreed to Thursday with the Houston Rockets. It would pay him a little more than $5 million in each of the first two years and $9.3 million in each of the last two years, according to a person with knowledge of the salaries. The fourth season is a team option.
The Knicks will have three days to match the offer for the restricted free agent, and they have repeatedly said they plan to keep Lin, who became a breakout star when he took over the starting point guard role in February.
His season was cut short after 35 games, including 25 starts, because of torn knee cartilage that required surgery. But the Knicks had already seen enough on the court — and at the box office and souvenir stands — to know they don't want Lin to get away.
But as good as he was in his brief stint, questions remain whether he is the player to best complement the Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Perhaps that would be Kidd, who has played with both on USA Basketball teams and teamed with Chandler on the Mavericks' 2011 NBA championship team.
Chandler said he was talking to Kidd throughout the summer about him coming to New York, but thought it was a long shot.
"People say things about his age, but with a guy like Jason Kidd you can throw his age out of the window because not only is he capable of doing great things still on the basketball court, but he's invaluable off," Chandler said. "Locker room, huddles, film, I mean he's going to be invaluable to our team."
The Knicks have other decisions to make at guard. Landry Fields, the starting shooting guard most of the last two years and Lin's best friend on the team, has agreed to an offer sheet with Toronto that would pay him about $20 million over three years. New York has to decide whether to accept that and also is trying to keep free-agent JR Smith, who declined the second-year option on his contract but could return.