Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Lin-Side Story of Why Jeremy Lin Left the Knicks-Part 1

The Lin controversy stirred up a hornet’s nest of anger and ire with  fans divided in blaming Knicks, Rockets, NBA and even Lin for his departure from NY. This two-part article profiles LinSanity and uses fan’s concerns to separate the facts from fiction.

Jeremy Lin took an amazing journey from being homeless to an overnight world-wide icon! Jeremy Shu-How Lin, who at only 23 is one of the world’s most beloved sports heroes, was born in Los Angeles, California on August 23, 1988 and raised in Palo Alto. The Harvard graduate that went undrafted is the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. After being cut by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets following his rookie year, the seldom-used Lin was picked up on waivers by the Knicks. In New York, Lin was so worried about his finances that he slept on his brother’s and Landry Field’s couches. Lin was reluctant to pay for hotels because the Knicks’ 4th-string point guard’s contract was not guaranteed and he was on the verge of being unemployed without severance pay.

Lin’s story reads as though it was a too-good-to-be-true fairy tale. The 8-15 Knicks were facing injuries to their point guards and those filling in couldn’t get the team to play cohesively. Figuring he’d take a final look at Lin before cutting him, coach Mike D'Antoni give the 23-year-old bench warmer his chance. Lin surprised everyone by leading the win-starved Knicks to a thrilling 99-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets and scoring 25 points. Lin was given his first NBA start the next game. He propelled New York to a seven-game win streak that included his out playing Kobe Bryant in an upset win against the Lakers. Named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Lin averaged 27 points and 8 assists. Lin’s 109 points was the most points scored by any NBA player in their first four starts since the 1976-77 season!

Lin rescued the struggling Knicks and LinSanity was born! Even when Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were absent due to injury, Lin galvanized New York into playoff contention.  Lin’s brave forays into the paint, potent scoring, timely steals and deft passes inspired LinSanity. Lin restored the excitement, joy and hope that Knicks fans had not experienced in decades. Jeremy Lin became a beloved and admired hero around the world.  From a seldom-used scrub, he went on to become a world-wide icon that was featured on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” two weeks in a row! In his 25 games as a starter, Lin sold out every arena he played in, raised NBA TV ratings and sold more jerseys than virtually any other NBA player! On the road, fans cheered louder for him than for their home teams. 
Mike Woodson declared Lin is our starting point guard and the Knicks will match any offer! So let’s examine the facts and fiction:

“Lin is the best point guard in Knick’ history and soon will become a super-star!”
Carmelo Anthony explained ''I don't think nobody really has an idea what his ceiling is,'' Although Lin must prove himself before anyone anoints him as the next Walt Clyde Frazier, Anthony stressed. ''What he was able to do for that little stretch that he played before he got hurt, he was at the all-time high, from a game standpoint doing what he was able to do, averaging 20 something-plus points, almost 10 assists. I'm ready to see what's next.'' In short, only time will tell how good Lin can become and if he'll ever be a star.

“Lin is a turn-over prone, 25-game flash-in-the- pan that was stopped by the Heat!” Although I agree Lin does need to learn how to handle the ball better, he has been very effective despite his turnovers-except against the Heat. The question that remains to be answered is will teams learn how to stop Lin or will he learn how to overcome stifling D? Lin would have had his best chance of learning quickly under veteran PG’s on the Knicks rather than being the only PG on the Rockets. That is Lin’s biggest loss!

“Lin is a shoot-first PG that was good in MDA’s style but is wrong for the Knicks because he never can play with Melo & Amare!” Although Lin has been a scoring point guard without the Knicks stars, it may be because Lin had to carry the scoring load in their absence. Lin is a smart player and had he been given enough time to learn from Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, I have no doubt he would have learned how.
“Knicks never wanted to keep Lin, so they had to find a way to let him go!” Ridiculous! Lin is a smart, moral, respectful and humble guy who never gets into trouble and is well liked by Knicks’ management and teammates alike. He is an international-marketing and box-office gold mine who makes lots of money for the Knicks and produces lots of positive publicity for the NBA. Lin played very well before he was injured and works hard to make himself and his teammates better! What is not to like about Lin?

“If Melo wanted Lin he would have been kept!” This is another reach in my opinion. If Anthony had declared “I’ll demand a trade if Lin leaves,” perhaps the Knicks might have kept him. But why would Melo stick out his neck and risk both players being exiled?  

“The Rockets made it financially impossible for the Knicks to match and keep Lin!” No! They made it difficult by back loading Lin’s $25.1-million contract with a balloon payment of nearly $15-million in the third year. Known as a poison pill, it could have cost the already over-the-cap Knicks as much as $45-million in luxury tax or $60-million total that year just for Lin. But since the Rockets are under the cap, they would have to pay Lin only a little over $8-million a year!

"Lin left the Knicks because it is the NBA's fault!" The new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, designed to penalize teams over the cap, makes it easy for under-cap teams to legally steal Restricted Free Agents! Why should the Knicks have to pay up to $70-Million for Lin's final year in salary and Luxury Tax and the Rockets can get him for only a little more than 8-Million? Ironically, this provision contradicts the spirit of Bird Rights, enabling teams to keep their own RFA's. The Players' Association just fought for and won binding arbitration against the NBA to get Bird Rights on behalf of Lin and other waved players.  

 “Lin who started only 25 NBA games in his career is a gamble not worth as much as $70M in salary + tax!” Although Lin’s unknown ultimate value and the poison-pill arguments might convince many NBA teams to pass on him, money is not why the Knicks let Lin go! Although Knicks are already capped out, Lin has Bird rights that enable them to match any offer to keep him. They could easily trade Lin’s $15-million expiring contact in year 3 to a team looking to gain cap space. If the Knicks did decide to release Lin in the summer of 2014, the new CBA's "stretch provision" would allow New York to avoid a one-time salary cap hit by paying him about $5-million per year for the next 3 seasons. Lastly, James Dolan spends like its play money, so why would that stop him now?

“Knicks said they’d keep Lin at any price! Why didn’t the-most-over-the-cap team in NBA history spend the money to keep him?”  Under the new CBA, the Knicks could only pay Lin about $15-million for 3 years unless he got a higher offer from another team. They told Lin that they want him back at a price that would be fair to him. To do this, Lin was advised to test the market to see what he could get and the Knicks would match the offer! Woodson even declared publicly that Knicks want Lin back and he will be our starting point guard. Lin had originally agreed to sign the Rockets 4 year offer sheet of $28-million. Since year 4 was not guaranteed and at Houston’s option, the Knicks would have been required to pay only $19.5 million for Lin. So far, Lin did exactly what the Knicks told him to do. When the Rockets heard that the Knicks were going to match it, they ripped it up with Lin’s permission and offered him a new 3-year $25-million contract. Although it’s unclear whether Lin was the one who told the Rockets about the Knicks intention of matching the first offer or it leaked out, James Dolan was outraged that Lin worked with the Rockets to burn the Knicks. The conclusive proof was that Lin signed the 2nd offer after agreeing to the first!  Although the price of the second offer could cost up to $70 in salary and tax, the Knicks would have matched it – but Jeremy Lin’s working with the Rockets against the Knicks got James Dolan angry!

In part 2, we will disclose why Jeremy Lin chose to leave the Knicks despite his claim that he loves New York and wanted to stay, plus how adding Lin could help the Rockets land Dwight Howard.

Read Part 2 to Learn How Lin's Move Effects the Knicks & Rockets
 As Well As What Was Lin's and Dolan's Roles

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