The New York Knicks have taken flack from many hometown fans for most likely planning to let Jeremy Lin and Linsanity go to the Houston Rockets. Here's why it is a smart move for the Knicks.
First of all, let's get sentimentality out of the way. Sure, Linsanity was great. Jeremy Lin broke records when he averaged 14 points and 7 assists in 25 NBA games, during which he scored 20 points nine times in 10 games and scored 38 points in a gem of a performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was a great run for a guy with one of the most refreshing and unlikely stories in recent basketball history. From famously living on his brother's couch in Manhattan's grungy Lower East Side one week to leading a resurgence at Madison Square Garden the next, he rose to mega-fame faster than probably any other sports icon ever has.
And sure, his #17 jerseys have sold like hotcakes in America and China ever since he revitalized the Knicks' season last year. He will probably continue to bring in big money for whatever team he ends up playing for next year, regardless of his performance.
But that's one of the biggest questions: how well will he play in the 2012-13 season? How good will he be in 2014-15, when the Rockets have committed to paying him nearly $15 million a year if only he'll come back to Houston and grace the team's fans with his presence just a year after the Rockets cut him?
It's a huge unknown. Jeremy Lin is a great talent, and he had a dominating run last season that made him into an icon, a global brand and an inspiration to thousands of young basketball fans.
But he has little experience. It's not just luck and the stupidity of NBA owners that had him scrounging to find a team to sign him last off-season. It's the fact that he's just not that great a player. And if he is, there isn't enough of a body of evidence to prove it yet. So offering him a double-digit contract three years from now is, as Lin's fellow Knick, Carmelo Anthony, put it, "ridiculous."
And that's the only choice the Rockets left the Knicks. On purpose. The Rockets organization knows that with its all-in strategy, New York can't afford to add another $15 mil to its books in three years. They'll already be dropping $62 million that season on Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler alone. And though James Dolan has been nothing short of a profligate spender in recent years, willing to part with tens of millions of dollars like it's pockets change, there has to be some limit, and the newly-prohibitive luxury tax may just be it. Lin's just not worth what he would do to the Knicks' cap space.
And lastly, the Knicks don't need any more point guards. As of Monday, they have three solid recent acquisitions all ready to play floor general: Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and the Spanish League's Pablo Prigioni.
Felton and Stoudemire had a great run a couple years ago, when they got the pick-and-roll down to a science before Felton was traded away in the mega-deal that brought Melo to New York. Jason Kidd needs no introduction (and despite his age, he won an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, lest we forget), though his DWI arrest in the Hamptons on Sunday throws a wrench in his NYC arrival. And though Prigioni is 35 years old and has no experience, it was a shrewd move to snatch the Argentine up for a low-dollar contract to see what he can do at the Garden.
In other words, the Knicks are stacked at PG, and Jeremy Lin may have become a hometown hero, but that doesn't mean he can bite the hand that feeds him. Dolan played it slow with Lin, not offering him a contract early on this post-season, and the Rockets made an offer the Knicks will most likely refuse. It would be stupid not to.
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