Sunday, July 15, 2012

Go Jeremy! Really, just go...

While the Jeremy Lin saga was a great one for the Knicks, last season didn't exactly end on a high note for either party.  Though Linsanity was running high, let's not forget that he played a total of 26 games for the Knicks.  Over those games, he was far more effective during the early stretch of play than the latter.  Lin also fared much better in coach Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced system than he did under new coach Mike Woodson.  When a knee injury all but ended the season for Lin, fans and teammates alike mourned his absence but soldiered on.

All that said, just about everyone in New York was eager to get Lin re-signed and see what a full season would look like for the Knicks.  All signs pointed to Lin's return: an arbitrator siding with the Knicks to ease contract concerns; even the signing of veteran point guard Jason Kidd to act as a perfect mentor for Lin.  But then came the Rockets.

To the surprise of many, Lin agreed to an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, a three-year deal that would pay him $25 million.  No, Jeremy Lin was not the first NBA player to sign an offer sheet in an attempt to extract a raise from his current team.  In fact, it's fairly standard practice, the notion being that a player's current team can afford to pay more to retain him than another team could.  But that's not necessarily the case here.  The Knicks were already near the salary cap and had little flexibility now and in the years to come.  It was only thanks to that arbitrator's ruling that the Knicks could even afford Lin in the first place.

I'm not going to tell you I know what was going through Jeremy Lin's mind (or his agent's) when he signed that offer sheet.  Maybe he fully intended to return to New York.  Maybe he was only in it for the money.  But he sure wasn't thinking about making the Knicks the best team they could be by potentially saddling them with a big-money contract not of their own choosing.  But yesterday, the Knicks had a curious answer of their own.

By announcing the acquisition of former Knick Raymond Felton, a point guard, of all things, the Knicks may have given Jeremy Lin a cold sendoff.  It was a calculated gamble by Lin to sign with the Rockets.  But like all gambles, they come with risk.  And the risk, though at the time low, was always that the Knicks wouldn't match the offer.  It hasn't happened yet.  But it sure looks like it could.  And Jeremy Lin would only have himself to blame for that.

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