Knicks decide to walk away from Linsaine offer
Things just got a little less Linteresting in the Big Apple.
The New York Knicks decided not to match a three-year $25.1 million dollar offer sheet for guard Jeremy Lin. The primary reason for this being that the final year of the deal was for $14.8 million. This would have caused a cap catastrophe for the Knicks. They would be over the luxury tax threshold and lose future trade exemptions. Due to that poison pill of a final year, the team would have ended up paying around $40 million for Lin’s services.
My question is: how much is Lin worth? The Houston Rockets seam to think he is worth quite a bit. He has only played 35 games, yet they were still willing to pay $25 million. The Knicks, not quite so much.
The Houston Rockets finally gain a marketable player. Something they’ve lacked since the abrupt retirement of Yao Ming. Lin became an overnight sensation in New York. He is now, deservedly or not, one of the faces of the NBA. Yes he is polarizing, but he will get butts in the seats. Think of him as basketballs version of Tim Tebow. He also gives the Houston Rockets the same international appeal that they had with Yao. The relevance of being a global brand cannot be overlooked.
It is also possible that Lin could be the man to get the Rockets over the hump. They finished ninth in the Western Conference last season, only one place out of the playoffs. With proper ball distribution, the could make it to the postseason dance.
However, one can’t help but wonder who he will pass the ball to. Houston isn’t exactly a high-scoring club. Lin does like to shot quite a bit for a point guard, but he could use another option. While there is rumors the team may acquire Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum (both of whom would be a great fit with Lin), I doubt either will come to fruition.
So regardless if the Rockets make the playoffs next season, the Rockets came out on top in this deal. If nothing else, they gave the world a reason to start paying attention to them again. Relevance is priceless. On the court Lin has potential, but is a high-risk/high-reward proposition. Houston doesn’t have anything to lose, so for them it is definitely worth a try.
For Lin, I believe signing with the Rockets was a mistake. Sure, he will make more money than he would have with the Knicks in terms of salary. This doesn’t take into account an important fact. The Knicks play in New York. The marketing and endorsement potential in New York in unparalleled in any NBA city save maybe Los Angeles. If Lin played his cards right, he would probably make more in sponsorships than his contract was worth.
I also believe leaving the Empire State was a mistake for basketball reasons. Sure in Houston he would have been the go-to guy, but New York has other things to offer. Jason Kidd was signed, and could have served as a great mentor. There are few better people I could think of to help Lin become a complete player than Kidd. Add in Marcus Camby, and you have the makings of a team built to make a legitimate run for the playoffs. Lin would also have better passing options with the Knicks. Sure, he didn’t really gel with Carmelo Anthony in the brief time they spent together. I have news for you: Melo is one of the toughest people to play with in the NBA. Sure, he is one of the best pure scorers in the league, but he is selfish and stoic. No one can slow down an offense like Carmelo Anthony. Still, there’s a chance that chemistry could form over time.
For the Knicks, this is a disaster. Raymond Felton is out of shape and past his prime. Jason Kidd signed on to mentor Lin, so he can’t be too happy. He is also 39. In Lin, the team lost it’s most marketable asset. Without Linsanity, the team probably wouldn’t have landed it’s lucrative new tv deal. Lin brought relevance back to Knicks basketball. The kind of relevance they were looking for with Melo. They instead received only Melo-drama. Is $40 million more than Lin is worth? On the court? Probably. Off the court? Not even close.
Walking away from Jeremy Lin was a move that could haunt the Knicks for years. Expect the Knicks to be a little less Lintertaining this coming season.
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