Photo: Richard Perry - NY Times
- Troy Ballard
It would be too easy to say Linsanity was the sure-fire key to Jeremy Lin securing a long-term deal in New York with the Knicks.
But still, that was the general consensus of the NBA. There was almost no chance that New York wouldn't splurge on Lin, the player who saved a dysfunctional and broken roster and become an international sensation overnight — the price tag be damned.
In fact, even head coach Mike Woodson was caught in the hype, and when asked about the Knicks matching Houston's offer, he dropped the term, "absolutely."
The mere idea of letting someone that had the potential of Lin leave — no less to a team like the Houston Rockets — is something that the human mind couldn't comprehend. The only plausible option for New York was to match any offer that Lin received.
And that's what we were led to believe.
Until things quickly deteriorated in NYC.
The sudden and swift hand of the luxury tax went crashing down over the Knicks. The numbers were pushed, and it became evident that although Lin's contract was doable, that infamous tax would equal out to a mind-numbing $42 million in the third-year of his new contract.
James Dolan began reeling.
Then the media focused shifted to the idea that Lin could leave New York and that the Knicks wouldn't match Houston's offer. The idea of price tag be damed began to fade, and speculation flew in every single direction.
Ultimately, Lin was stuck. He was a victim of trying to earn a paycheck. Houston was the the big bad wolf, and New York was an even more-eviler wolf. The Knicks had basically promised Lin that he would be resigned no matter what, so he had no hesitation about signing the Rockets' offer sheet.
Then, as quickly as Linsanity happened in New York — it vanished.
The Knicks made the decision to not match. Lin is now a member of the Rockets. Done deal.
Yes, it's a sad story for Lin. Yes, it's a sad story for New York. Yes, Houston is still as desperate as ever. Yes, Dolan is still widely considered the worst owner in professional sports. Yes, Knicks fans will be tossing around the phrase 'same old, same old' soon. Yes, the NBA will continue to march on.
I wrote a few weeks ago that the entire world needed to slow down on Jeremy Lin. The kid was being treated like a multiple time All-Star and a top-tier talent in the NBA. I said that the value of his new contract was steep, especially for someone who has started less than 30-games in his entire career. Reinforce that point with the question of his durability, as he finished last season on the bench with a thrashed knee.
My opinion hasn't changed.
However, I do feel that New York made the right choice. It wasn't an attractive way to go about it, and it was far from professional, but letting Lin leave was absolutely what the Knicks needed to do. There were a plethora of reasons to let him walk, and a shorter list of reasons to keep him.
Lin is a massive gamble. New York was looking at being slaughtered by the luxury tax for a player that may totally tank in his first full season as a starter. Sure, the potential for him to explode and become that top-tier talent is still there, but the former is more likely than the latter.
$42 million is a sharp price to pay for a player that may be nothing more than a one-hit wonder.
The fan base may be up in arms, but long-term, this was the safest option. It may not be the sexy option, but it will be three-years down the line. New York now has some (albeit limited) financial flexibility. The value of that can't be understated.
Linsanity was awesome while it lasted, and the Knicks will always have those fond memories. But the NBA is a present and future game, and Lin wasn't in either of those decks for New York. The time is to focus on what is possible, and not what could have been.
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