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Hey did you guys hear Jeremy Lin is leaving the Knicks?
But seriously, folks. The Knicks will officially lose the 23-year-old Lin today, thanks to a combination of financial reasons, ineptitude and logic, in equal parts.
Lin was the most polarizing athlete of the last year, non-Tebow category, with one big difference: the Lin Backlash never really arrived. Sure, he has his detractors. But in general it seemed like the entire world was rooting for the plucky Ivy League upstart to rescue the sad sack franchise from its evil, “thug” superstar.
There’s no need to rehash the story – we all know it by heart, and by “we” I mean, well, just about everyone and their mother. The Garden was electric, the jerseys flew off the shelves and the Knicks were relevant in a positive light for the first time in more than a decade. Lin was a global sensation, and no price was too high to pay for him.
Except $25 million. That is how much the Rockets will pay for him for the next three years, or about a third of the price it would cost the Knicks, depending on who you use as a source. Given the gordian nature of the NBA salary cap, it’s unclear what the exact price for three years of Lin would have cost NY. What is indisputable is that the Rockets extended Lin an offer sheet that was purposely backloaded in order to make the Knicks’ decision as difficult as possible, and Lin signed that offer sheet knowing full well that it would most likely signal the end of his short tenure in New York.
Carmelo Anthony called it “ridiculous,” and despite the fact that he is quickly emerging as the villain in this whole delicate ballet/fiasco, we all know he’s right. The contract IS ridiculous: no one who has played in so few games should make as much or more than X player or Y player, especially someone coming over major knee surgery who was undrafted and about as close to the NBA unemployment line as humanly possible before catching fire. Of course, the flipside is that Lin is worth X amount of money to the Knicks, with Y amount of goodwill, and even if he sucks by Year Three he’s still a marketing bonanza and well worth the tens of millions of dollars in luxury tax and James Dolan is a rich jerk and this is a classic Knicks mistake and blah blah blah.
This was a perfect storm of bad press for the Knicks: a week devoid of sports news, a figure who transcends sports, a deluge of unsourced rumors leading to rampant speculation leading to a million and one opinions.
My opinion? I… I just don’t care. It’s over at this point, and the masses of bandwagon fans who snapped up #17 Linsanity shirts will probably take the tags off their #15 Tebow Jets tshirts next month and forget all about Lin as he lingers in Houston. It was a great story, it’s over now, and Lin will get a fresh start in a new city under enormous pressure to perform.
Honestly, would he have wanted to come back to this Knicks team? Beyond the disrespect he most certainly felt and will almost certainly reveal in the next few days, he would have paired with a 39-year-old drunk guy and a thrice-traded fat guy for quite possibly the worst defensive backcourt in the league. His good buddy, former couch-lender and Bible study partner Landry Fields has already escaped to the Great White North, replaced by… well, no one really. The smell of Old Spice and death will pervade the Knicks locker room next season, thanks to the partially exhumed carcasses of Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas, who combine to about 14 feet and 80 years. Amare’ Stoudemire, who embraced his newfound Jewish faith last year by immediately having back problems, will continue to alternate between wearing a suit on the bench and strapping gallons of ice to his knees. J.R. Smith will continue to jack up shots, and when his knee heals, so will Iman Shumpert. Steve Novak will most likely return to earth after draining threes NBA Jam-style last season. Tyson Chandler will again have a scraggly beard and yell a lot.
And Carmelo Anthony, the prodigal son, the guy who killed Linsanity forever and helped relegate the Knicks to No. 2 in New York behind the upstart Brooklynites of Atlantic Avenue, will probably be roundly booed for most of the next season.
Ok, step back from that ledge, my friend. I mean, honestly, we could be Kings fans. Or (shudder) Sonics fans. We could be Bobcats fans, secretly hoping our team owner suits up instead of pretending to be a rock star. We could be Magic fans – easily the most bumbling franchise around since their Finals trip, a team that has collected several of the absolute worst contracts in basketball history in the past few years. But we aren’t. We chose the Knicks, for proximity reasons or familial reasons or by drawing straws or picking frozen envelopes. This isn’t blood in, blood out. You’ve got a perfectly good team across the river with a cool logo and a new arena that probably doesn’t smell like stale Rheingolds from 1973.
Look, the Knicks will win some games next year. I’d say about 48 wins sounds right, which may put them in the fifth seed depending on how things shake out with the Celtics, Pacers, Nets and Magic. They will lose in the first round, which probably would have happened Lin or no Lin. Carmelo might average 40 points a game next year, in a lot of 100-40 Knicks losses. Would Lin have really rescued this team? No. Would he have made them relevant? Sure. But he probably, PROBABLY would have inspired a ton of blog posts written from iPad 5s in 2014 about how stupid the Knicks were to re-sign a guy on the strength of a quarter of a season to a contract that paid him more than Rajon Rondo. Of course, he still won’t have made as much as Goran Dragic, or Brook Lopez, or Gerald Wallace, or Nicolas Batum.
Ugh. On second thought, fuck James Dolan.