by - July 17, 2012 - - 17 Comments »

A 23-year-old walks into Madison Square Garden. He proceeds to put up huge numbers and doubles as a marketing sensation. Then he is allowed to walk for nothing. Seems impossible, right? That is until you realize we are talking about the New York Knicks, a franchise that has prevented the NBA from having a relevant team in the largest market for more than a decade.

Let’s tackle the issues surrounding the Jeremy Lin contract dilemma…

1. Lin himself: He only did it over 26 games is a common mantra. This is true. But how about looking at what he did over those 26 games? He put up a player efficiency rating of 20, All Star level. He attacked the basket relentlessly, getting to the free throw line more than all but a handful of players. He scored more points per play in isolation than anyone not named Chris Paul or James Harden. He led an 8-1 run without Carmelo Anthony (and mostly without Amar’e Stoudemire). Plus, he’s only 23 and was essentially a rookie. Why do so many people assume he is going to fall on his face rather than get better like young players tend to do? Is it because he is Asian American and we haven’t seen a player of his background before? Because it surely can’t be a result of his production or skill set, which includes a first step that was measured out to be equivalent to John Wall’s. If he were a run of the mill first round pick who did what he did, instead of the author of the incessantly hyped Linsanity, all anyone would talk about is his potential. Name another player in NBA history who played as well as Lin for as long a stretch and didn’t turn out at least good. (Tumbleweeds)

(And yes, I realize he didn’t play in the playoffs. But he wasn’t medically cleared and forcing himself back after missing six weeks with a mobility limiting knee injury after the Heat had already won three games against the Knicks would have been stupid for both his and the their future. For the Knicks because you risk his health going forward, for him because he would risk the contract I’m about to write about. Remember, the Knicks almost cut him and instead he saved their season and singlehandedly ended the MSG/Time Warner dispute. I’d say that’ s a more than fair trade.)

2. The Contract: He doesn’t deserve it some scream. Who cares? It isn’t your money. And why is this deal, of all the contracts in NBA history, the one that people want to take a stand on, particularly when it doesn’t impact the Knicks cap. They were fortunate to benefit from a Bird rights ruling in their favor and are now throwing it away. The money from Lin’s deal CANNOT be used on other players. The Knicks are capped out even without Lin. They can’t now go out and sign Chris Paul or some other pipe dream. The only thing Lin would have cost is money, not roster flexibility. And isn’t it worth mentioning that he may have been a complete bargain at $5 million a pop for the first two years? Don’t you find it a tad intriguing a team that cut him, one that happens to feature the most analytically driven GM in the league, is dying to pay him all this money now after he’s played and provided results?

3. The money: Jeremy Lin’s contract could cause a hefty luxury tax bill for the Knicks. However, his contract is not the only one contributing to the tax. And this only applies if he is still on the team or if all of the other huge contracts are still on the books by year three of the deal. Plus, there is a new “stretch provision” in the CBA allowing for a team to lengthen out payments on a contract over multiple years which would lessen a punitive tax hit. Besides, the Knicks paid more in luxury tax in ’06-’07 for the likes of Steve Francis and Eddy Curry than they would for Lin. That makes me think this actually has nothing to do with money.

4. Behind the scenes stuff: By all accounts, Jim Dolan holds a grudge. I believe that is a distinct possibility here. Reports said the Knicks would match any offer Lin got. Well, he got one from the Rockets which was subsequently raised after New York said it would match. Perhaps the Knicks were not happy. So what? Them’s the breaks. It’s a business. You think fans are happy when ticket prices and their cable bills are unexpectedly raised on them every year? Letting anger cloud judgment is incredibly myopic. Then there’s the other players on the team, namely Carmelo Anthony. I get the sense (and have heard from people in the locker room) that Melo was never Lin’s biggest fan, despite what he may say publicly. (Remember when Melo referred to Lin as the team’s Rudy?) Anthony’s a guy who returned from injury to rejoin Linsanity, the most fun story any of us could possibly imagine, and couldn’t just come back, do his thing and enjoy the ride. Why? Because the Knicks are Melo’s team. And Melo is Jim Dolan’s guy. Dolan (according to reports) was the one who pulled the trigger on the Anthony trade. Head coach Mike Woodson is in Melo’s good graces unlike Mike D’Antoni. And most of the high ranking decisions at MSG are influenced by his representation company, CAA (which might as well stand for Carmelo Anthony Approved when it comes to the Knicks). Still, you would think all these guys could come together and realize that you simply don’t let a player who could help you now and in the future walk without getting anything in return.

Instead, it has come to this. James Dolan and the Knicks struck oil and decided to plug the hole themselves. I feel truly sorry for die-hard fans of the team. Because rooting for the Knicks is akin to rooting for Wile E. Coyote.

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17 Responses to “DohLin!”

  1. Rob says:

    You know what? I could live with this team that doesn’t advance past the first round of the playoffs if they were at least likeable, but I don’t see a thing I like in this team. I’ve been a Knicks fan forever and I tried very hard to get behind Carmelo Anthony – have defended him since he got here. But this? This is absolute, unequivocal bullshit. You could see this guy’s envy of the spotlight. You could see the way he laid down on defense under D’Antoni. He abandoned plays and embarrassed his teammates on the floor (remember what happened to Landry Fields out there? Anyone?).

    When Jason Kidd was signed, he said that Jeremy Lin always played in fifth gear and part of his mentorship would be teaching him how to shift it to third or fourth gear to last an entire season. You know what? MAYBE I LIKE A LITTLE BIT OF FIFTH GEAR AT THE GARDEN. MAYBE THAT’S WHAT ROCKED THE HOUSE HARDER THAN IT’S BEEN ROCKED IN NEARLY A DECADE. Is Lin perfect? No, but he tried. He was this hard working kid who studied gametape at halftime because he was upset not finding Tyson Chandler enough on the pick n’ roll – that’s right, concern for creating for his teammates.

    I don’t buy the media spin coming out of the Garden. Don’t buy Melo’s lies. You know what I do buy? This kid’s heart and his potential to be great. Good for him getting out of this poisonous organization that I’ve dumped my money into for too many years. I’m done.

  2. wow says:

    Great article. This is sooooo painful, I never learn with this team. Why didn’t any of the media personalities like SAS, Michael Kay, Jared Max bring this stuff up? Also, why did you leave Rucco’s side?

  3. stella rosa says:

    i was excited because i think he and shump could be pieces to build around for the future. i like selfless team basketball, sue me.

    whatever, this sucks.

    new york city, drinks are on me.

  4. KD SWAGGER says:


  5. Sad says:

    Agreed. Even if he doesn’t pan out, he could still be a valuable trade asset down the stretch.

    I also have the ominous feeling that once he leaves for HOU, he’s going to light it up. The team itself may not get far, but I think he’ll do well, and that’s gonna suck to see.

  6. Mathias says:

    I am 100% with you. I will never care about the Knicks and I will root for Nets to beat the Knicks every time they meet.

  7. J-Dubz says:

    i lOVE Lin’s story as well, and i am a HUGE knicks fan…but the fact remains, he’s not as good as us fans and the media are hyping him to be, i wish him all the best, i think he will go on to have a decent career and I’m happy that he is capitalizing on last season and getting his money, he gave my knicks energy and a spark that they needed, but just from watching his games i think its better for him to go to Houston, they will try to build around him, Lin is at his best when he is scoring. passing and being a facilitator on the knicks would not have worked out for the best…not signing him might have been a win win for everyone involved, except all the knicks fans that Lin has made here i guess

  8. Ray says:

    Wonderful article Robin! The one thing that made me come back and watch my hometown Knicks and now they throw it away for nothing. Unthinkable! Carmelo and JR had the balls to ridicule a teammate’s salary. That is against any rule on and off the court. This is a sorry ass team! BOYCOTT KNICKS!

  9. Maign says:

    Jeremy Lin promised after he went out injured that he would return next season a better player. You can tell he is the “work hard to improve” kid. I am confident that he will.

    Nothing is lost for his overseas fans, we only need to make sure our TV channels will carry Rockets’ games live. For most part of Asia, Knicks’ games were never shown live before Linsanity in the first place. No offense intended.

  10. Laurie says:

    I wish you were on the air waves the last few days so Dolan could hear The Truth.

    One hour left. I’m still hoping there is a breaking news report and he is staying and they throw him a friggin parade. I’m an NBA fan. I love the super stars and the passion. Heat will always be in Knicks way but for one season they were Fun to watch and you never shut the game off, always believing they would come back to win each game. Lin played with 150% (no matter who the coach was). D’Antoni used to say “he’s 23 he doesnt’ need to rest” and going from bench to starter to hero – maybe that caused the knee injury, but he was fearless in the paint. Is this how we treat him? We let him leave? If he wanted to leave New York I hope he tells us because right now I’m really upset with the Knicks. swallow ya pride and match the offer. Congrats to Lin. Harvard boy should get his money, he has a brain. And anyone that says he is selfish. I guarantee you this boy will put the money to charitable things in life. trust me. I watched every interview he gave. he has plans for the future after basketball and he is a good guy. a guy I’d want on MY TEAM.

  11. mary says:

    Thanks for making sense of this debacle.

  12. Jsnwwf says:

    “Take your 20, and 10 somewhere else.”

    The worst part, Knicks get nothing back. Kevin Martin would of been perfect.

  13. stella says:

    He is really a very very good kid and basketball player. Just miss all the selfless play so much. No matter what happens, God will bless him.

  14. Brian says:

    As much as I will miss him as a Knicks fan, I think this is the best outcome for HIM. He’ll make his money and be able to play his style of ball in Houston without the crosshairs of the media empire trained on him 24/7 – something I don’t think he particularly enjoyed. Also the Knicks locker has changed much in ways that are not in his favor. There are 3 other pgs he will have to share minutes with. His closest friends in Fields and Jeffries are gone. There are 2 chuckers that do not seem all that enamored with him. Melo can say what he wants, but I always got the nagging feeling that he cheered on Lin the same way that the jock cheered on the fat kid who finally crossed the finish line – condescendingly thrilled when it was a novelty; but got threatened as soon as “Rudy” took his spotlight away.

    Happy for the kid; not as much for the Knicks.

    P.S. Miss having you and Ryan Ruocco on the same show. Still enjoy RR, but having to wade around the SAS riff raff makes it a chore.

  15. Peter says:

    This is the best piece I’ve read on Jeremy Lin over the past week. Thanks for this great analysis. I was about to give up on ESPN after watching Stephen A Effing Smith talking crazy nonstop, when finally I heard your take on Jared Max on my iPhone ESPN Radio App….

    Thank you.

    I love watching Jeremy Lin, hope he’ll shine even brighter next season.

  16. mary says:

    You’re great. Thank you.

  17. Greg says:


    It’s certainly been a tough/rough baptism for Jeremy Lin. I do wish his agents had been more “lawyerly.” As attorneys, Grunwald crushed (young, albeit stellar) Tanner. And this episode demonstrates how one’s word is not necessarily honorable. Woodson, likely a good person, probably doesn’t feel so good about what happened.

    As this story is unfolding (including Chris Broussard’s piece), I’m thinking the Knicks weren’t sold on matching ANY offer, even the initial offer. The $25M gave them a “reason” to not sign him. It may have begun when ‘Melo put up his numbers, which Management finally felt justification in having signed him.

    Bottom line is that I think they believed that Jeremy would interfere with ‘Melo as centerpiece of the team. That’s their privilege, but I’m disappointed in how it was handled, up to the brief phone call to Lin. (It’s too late now, but I wonder if at that phone call from Grunwald he could have said, “What can I do to change your mind?”)

    In any event, it’s comforting to hear your evidence-based passion for Lin. Thank you for not being unprofessional (and ugly) toward ‘Melo and JR (as FI is toward Lin). I will follow the NY wonder will do really, really well in Houston. I hope he has fun and joy on his new team. So what he has to always “over achieve” — nothing wrong with that!!

    You’re doing a wonderful job. Good for you, and thanks a lot.


    BTW-I somehow do not think he went back to Houston to raise the deal. Why would he do that? I suspect Houston surprised him with the improved figure when he sat down to sign.

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