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The Inbounds: The Knick problem isn’t Lin, it’s consistency

Jul 18, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

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So Jeremy Lin is  a Rocket, no longer a Knick. That actually happened. The Knicks elected not to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet from the Houston Rockets and for Knicks fans who loved Lin, this is awful, terrible, gut-wrenching stuff. For everyone else, it’s a lot of fun. Why? Because it makes for terrific arguing over whether it was the right move.

“You have no idea if Lin was worth that kind of money! What if he’s a bust?!”

“How can you just let a guy who did what he did for them walk without getting anything in return?!”

“They chose Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, along with J.R. Smith and Marcus Camby over Lin?!”

“Lin could have returned if he wanted to! It was his choice!”

Yes, the volume will be up on sports talk radio, blogs, and barrooms in New York and all across the land that was made for you and me today as we try and suss out whether letting Lin leave was a good move or a disaster.

But a pretty solid way of finding the truth on this matter is that the decision was both good and bad. It was great in a vacuum and terrible in context.

Look, there’s just not a lot of ways to define Jeremy Lin as a player worth $25.1 million. You can take the marketing angle, which says that Lin will bring in so much revenue that it will vastly outweigh the price of his salary over three years. He’s immensely popular, in a way few players ever reach, because of his story, and his play style. But that was also based on his success. Jeremy Lin wasn’t self-evidently popular (though he was a cult-hero in Golden State, particularly with the Asian-American fanbase) prior to setting the world on fire that month this season. It was the points, the assists, and the wins that made him into the star he wound up as.  If that goes away, outside of New York, outside of last February, outside of the friendly confines of Mike D’Antoni’s system, then the Rockets will have set themselves up for the biggest stretch provision candidate you’re going to see.

You can argue his play warranted it, but Lin was a turnover-prone, isolation-heavy point guard who was surrounded by Tyson Chandler and, laugh all you want, Steve Novak and Landry Fields, players that fit his playstyle perfectly. That isn’t to say the Rockets don’t have shooters like Novak and Fields, they have better ones. But chemistry matters, fit matters, and Lin did have some significant holes in his game, particularly when it came to holding onto the ball. When defenses started to figure out how to more aggressively trap him on the pick and roll, things changed. Can he adjust enough to warrant that contract?

So yeah, as Melo said, the contract is “ridiculous” and on those grounds, the Knicks were absolutely correct in not matching the offer.They showed patience, prudence, and long-term considerations when declining to keep Lin. Good for them.

The problem?

When have the Knicks ever shown patience, prudence, or long-term consideration in anything?

In the past two years, they have taken all the cap space they had, all the flexibility, and brought in injury-prone Amar’e Stoudemire, ISO-so-much-coaches-want-to-fine-me-except-my-agent’s-agency-runs-the-team Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler hurtling towards the end of his career, and then decided to really top off the gas tanks with deals for Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby, and Steve Novak. Obviously, you have to field a complete roster and they wanted quality players. But if the Knicks are splurging at the rate they are, why was this the dividing line? Why is James Dolan willing to cross any bridge, burn any field, and toss out whatever coin he has the whimsy to toss in order to put players on the Knicks, but the guy who legitimately set the town and the world on fire is too much because of the cap hit in three years, when you can move him?

Keep that in mind. In three years, when the $15 million “poison pill” knocks whoever has Lin’s contract on their butts, there will have been enough time to either determine that Lin is resoundingly worth the investment, or shop him out however they choose. And if you can’t move him, use the stretch provision to ease the luxury tax burden. Guess what? You’re already going to drown in luxury tax then anyway. You know why? You gave Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire a bazillion dollars. There are consequences. And through all that, you’ve brazenly torn through the consequences. The Knicks make more money than God, but this, factoring in the marketing potential scared them off?

So that’s what has to frustrate fans. The Knicks have been willing to throw good money after bad for over a decade and yet they’re unwilling to do so on something that legitimately made the fans happy?

The truth of it likely comes down to a question of practicality and principle. The Rockets upped the offer in the middle of the moratorium, a no-no, apparently, and not matching was how they stood their ground. Every business has to have a threshold of what it’s willing to spend. The Rockets just so happened to find the Knicks’. But when we look at the whole picture, and see the excessiveness of the Dolan era, it has to be baffling to realize that the one time when the Knicks weren’t willing to make a bad decision, it was the one time they could have at least made their fans happy.

Jeremy Lin is a Rocket, no longer a Knick. And despite doing a very un-Knick-like thing, the Knicks are still the Knicks.

  1. itscraig07 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Raymond Felton is better than Lin and comes a lot cheaper also. Nothin else needs to be said.

  2. xelcid - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I’m gonna laugh when next year Jeremy Lin is voted as a starter over Kobe, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook for the All-star game.

    • caldreaming - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Starter in the All-star game? dude lay off the pipe.

      • xelcid - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        Yao started over Shaq when he had no business doing so… even when he was out for the first half of the season. If you don’t see that happening again, it is you, my friend, who needs to cut back the pharmaceuticals.

    • caldreaming - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Space cadet xelcid,
      Lin is no Yao Ming.

      • xelcid - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        I have no clue what you are arguing. Yes they are too seperate people. However, they both enjoy huge fanbases both here in the US and overseas. The All-star voting system is a popularity contest. Only the backups are chosen by players. Are you arguing that Lin’s fanbase is overexaggerated or did you think I thought Jeremy Lin would be voted in on merits alone? Instead of the 3rd grade insults, just clarify your position.

      • caldreaming - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        yes Lin’s fan base is over exaggerated, that’s obvious.

  3. namriverrat69 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I too wish Lin the best as his game grows over the coming years. I’ve read so many comments that he waited no time to sign this contract and stiff the Knicks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lin loved the Big Apple and its fans. They embraced his and he returned the favor.

    I’m sure they will be able to show their love when the Rockets come to town. The Knicks left them without a top notch point guard. There was ample time to sign Lin before he signed the Rockets contract., By the way, all the things being said about the weakness in Jeremy Lin’s game were also being said about Rajon Rondo not to long back.

    I’m not a Knicks fan but an LA KINGS, Lakers. and Dodgers, Angels (I went to high school with Arte Moreno (and Gabby Gifford came along 20 years later) and an Arizona Wildcat fan and a fan of USC when there is a big game for my wife’s alma mater.. I’m a So Cal guy who follows his favorite players and root for their teams, along with grads like Tedi Bruski, Gronkowski, etc.

    I love sports but I keep it in prospective as entertainment in respect to real life. I’m sure there will be haters of all sorts who will note grammatical and spelling errors and my opinions., I hope this makes you feel fulfilled and stokes up your ego.

  4. omniusprime - Jul 18, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    The only one who blew it was that dimwitted Matt Moore for writing this insipid piece of trash. The Knicks were smart to dump the Linept garbage in Houston’s garbage dump. Exactly what did Linept do for the Knicks Matt that makes you think the Knicks could ever recoup their idiotic investment in this garbage playground player? Keeping Linept longer would have only made the Knicks’s loss worse. It’s a good thing you’re a sports pundit Matt because you certainly don’t have the brains for doing a real job that requires real intelligence.

    Linept played a few mediocre seasons before having a few good games then the idiots went wild thinking Linept was a good player when it was merely a case of teams not defending him because Linept has always been a pathetic excuse for an NBA player.

  5. crillbill - Jul 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Amare Stoudimire will cost the knicks $69 million in 2014 as they will be over the cap by about his total salary x3?

    Lin for 3 years would cost almost the same as what the Knicks will pay for Carmelo Anthony in 2014.

    A wise decision for the Knicks yet again.

    Somewhere Isaiah Thomas is nodding in agreement.

  6. urodaddy07 - Jul 18, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    J. Lin is a solid PG, not quite as good as the hype suggests, but I think he has scope to improve when he gets consistent minutes and unselfish players around him. 5 million a year is a fair price, but 15 million in year 3 is way too much. I think he will help Houston, but Houston’s main problem will not be at PG. They will struggle at the 3, 4 and 5 positions due mostly to the lack of a proven big men. So, they will be an exciting team but won’t make the playoffs.

  7. ajpurp - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    I don’t get why everyone is bringing up the deal itself, Houston gets a pg with possible potential who will bring in tons of marketing and jersey revenue because Houston is already “china’s team” and the last year of his deal if it doesn’t work out is a tradable expiring contract. Knicks fans are mad because if they had made an offer instead of telling him to test it could have been much cheaper and then if they had not been so outspoken about matching Houston wouldn’t have upped the offer. Whether Lin is good or not doesn’t matter no one cares all that much, it’s how the Knick consistently handle their business.

  8. aht66 - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Seriously! Is this about the Knicks making a bad choice in NOT matching, or better yet offering Lin a deal in the first place. Lets question Houstons dealings with their own point guards. What about them not re-signing Dragic (better than LIn) and trading away Lowry (also better than Lin), only to find themselves so desperate to fill the void that they offered
    top dollar to a young player that they waived last season. Yes, as a die hard Knicks fan, I would have loved to see Lin return to the team. I thought for sure the team would match Houstons offer, and deal with that 3rd year of the contract when the time came. Maybe New York was looking ahead to next summer, when Chris Paul is an unrestricted free agent. Hopefully the Dolan checkbook reopens!

  9. purnellmeagrejr - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    A long time Knick fan I was glad they weren’t foooled into matching. THis means I won’t be subjected to watching LIn get his pocket picked two-three times a quarter, as welll as tossing the balll around so much. On top of that I don’t seee LIn a having the quicknesss to stay with the faster stronger NBA guards. I was gong to mention ROndo but nobody stays with him. BTW I like the pickup of Camby; the Knicks willl be bettter nxt year in the regular season 50 wins being a realisitic win total.

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