Now that the smoke has cleared and sanity seems to have been restored, it seems like many people are now content with Jeremy Lin going to the Houston Rockets and leaving New York. “Oh, it was too much money.” “He’s unproven.” So on and so forth. I get the feeling that most are quick to point out that even though he’s defied all odds thus far, it still isn’t enough. “He won’t be a good shooter, he commits way too many turnovers, he only thrived because of Mike D’Antoni’s system,” etc. Just like in the middle of this past season where he was getting knocked for what he wasn’t doing rather than what he was doing. But if you regularly watch basketball or are a Knicks fan like myself—and I don’t mean a Knicks fan that decided to like the team just to root for Jeremy Lin the same way everybody became a Broncos fan in the height of “Tebowmania”—you know what you saw from this kid. He was nothing short of spectacular when he was healthy.
And now he’s gone. And we got nothing in return for him.
It absolutely boggles my mind that we let a restricted, potential superstar, sign with Houston and not only decline to match his offer sheet, but bring nothing back in exchange. If I hear one more person claim that he’s “unproven” or “wasn’t worth the money,” I’m going to play Russian roulette with a full clip. Riddle me this: How many times has someone’s first 25 starts been their greatest? Never. You don’t peak when you’re a 23-year-old that took the world by storm and are just scratching the surface. Jeremy Lin is the textbook definition of a “diamond in the rough,” but his Knicks tenure has now been cut short because of James Dolan, the incompetent yet miraculously rich owner of the team who has, for whatever reason, decided to be frugal for once.
I’m sorry, but isn’t Madison Square Garden undergoing a roughly $975 million renovation? Didn’t Knicks tickets rise an average of 49 percent last year? Wasn’t Jeremy Lin the sole reason MSG’s market cap grew by $600 million? Hell, I guess that we might as well dish off Lin (and all of his jersey/shirt sales) because the team might have to spend $50 million for the 2014-15 season.
To be fair, yes, having to spend $50 million for one player is ridiculous. Sure, he only signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal, but because of the Knicks’ feverish spending the past two years, they’ll be hit with a massive luxury tax when 2014 rolls around. But there are a few reasons why they still should have pulled the trigger and matched Houston’s offer.
First off, haven’t the Knicks been bogged down by massive salaries for a while now? Haven’t we been burned by Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Antonio McDyess, Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady and countless others? I mean, I guess not dishing out a wad of dough for a player with only 25 starts under his belt is sensible, right? Which makes me wonder: The Knicks have given out tons of gargantuan contracts to non-deserving players for decades—why should we make a potentially smart decision now? Dolan is dealing with unlimited money and it’d be great if he rewarded the young man for getting even richer off of him.
Second, the Knicks weren’t necessarily tied down to paying out the ass in 2014. They could have easily traded Stoudemire, Chandler, Novak or others to free up some salaries and make Lin’s deal suitable. Besides, he’s going to make about $5 million over the next two seasons. When you break that down, he’ll be making less than players like Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, George Hill, Kyle Lowry and Jarrett Jack.
And finally, I know that from what I saw, Jeremy Lin can play. I’m not saying he’s going to turn into a perennial MVP candidate, but I truly believe that he’s going to become a very good player. He reminds me a lot of Steve Nash when he first came up. He wasn’t the greatest defender and he had an average jump shot at best, but what he brought to the basketball court was remarkable passing and a high IQ. I see a lot of similarities between the two and while it’d be crazy to think that he could get to Nash’s level, I wouldn’t rule him out averaging 20 and 10 in the future. And before you give me that dopey notion that he only excelled because of Mike D’Antoni’s system, you don’t drop 38 on Kobe as basically a rookie because of a “system.” Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson played D’Antoni’s way as well—how did they do?
There’s a reason why my Knicks have won just a single playoff game in the past decade and it’s because we’re saddled with James Dolan, a smart businessman who doesn’t know how to run a winning sports team. We’re now left with the hefty Raymond Felton, the injured Iman Shumpert, and professional drunk driver Jason Kidd as our point guards. We would’ve had some serious depth had we thrown Lin into that mix.
What’s that, you ask? How is MSG’s stock doing since they parted ways with Jeremy Lin? You guessed it—it’s dropped $93 million. Good thing you decided to cut costs on a respectful, smart, Harvard-educated young man, Mr. Dolan, because it seems like you’re trying to drive our team straight into a telephone pole.