By Steve Silverman
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New York, NY (WFAN) – The obsession with Jeremy Lin has to come to an end.
For some reason, the Houston Rockets want Lin on their team. They want him badly. To the tune of a three-year, $25 million contract that will pay him $14.9 million in the final year of the contract.
The Knicks would like to bring him back. They are strongly considering matching the contract and keeping him in a Knicks uniform.
Lin, at this point in his career, is a nice player. He can handle the ball decently and he can score fairly well while leading his team’s offense. But that’s it. He’s not a great ball player by any stretch.
As an unknown, he had about four weeks of spectacular player that saw him lead the Knicks on a hot streak and score with authority.
However, when opponents started to pressure Lin’s ball-handling he had a difficult time protecting the ball and turnovers became the rule and not the exception. Also, when opponents started to turn up the defensive pressure and put hands in his face on nearly every shot – as often happens when a player first asserts himself – his shooting accuracy dipped and he became just another guy.
Lin was a New York obsession in the month of February. At the time, head coach Mike D’Antoni really didn’t have anyone else to turn to, so he tapped Lin on the shoulder, handed him the ball and said, “Go get ’em, kid.”
D’Antoni could not have had any expectations that Lin would actually come through, but that’s just what he did. His brilliant performances against the Nets, Jazz, Wizards and Lakers gave long-suffering Knicks’ fans hope that they had a savior.
What they had was an unknown player with guts who was not afraid to come through on the biggest stage. That’s no small feat, but it doesn’t mean that he had superstar talent bubbling beneath the surface.
Lin is a good player but he is not a star. It is unlikely he will every become one. But if the Knicks are going to retain him, they will have to pay him like a superstar.
This contract would hurt the Knicks, particularly in the third year of the deal when the Knicks would have to pay $76.7 million committed to Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Lin. According to the Houston Chronicle, keeping Lin likely would cost the Knicks roughly $45 million in Lin’s salary and tax penalties that season.
That would not be beneficial to the Knicks. You don’t commit that much money to a player who appears to be average but is not going to dominate for you. The Knicks have those players in Anthony and Stoudemire and Chandler is their defensive stopper.
Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler have plenty of flaws, but they seemed to play better once Mike Woodson took over as head coach. More than any other sport, it’s the play of superstars that help a team climb the ladder in pro basketball.
The NBA’s Eastern Conference appears to be fertile ground. The Miami Heat stand alone as a dominant team. The Chicago Bulls have to overcome a devastating injury to Derrick Rose. The Boston Celtics are trying to survive another year and the Brooklyn Nets are trying to pull themselves up and make a splash in their new home. The Philadelphia 76ers play with effort but have limited talent.
There’s no reason the Knicks can’t be the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. But there’s also no reason to pay Lin like he’s a dominant player, because he’s not.
The Houston Rockets’ contract offer to Lin is prohibitive. He may be a fan favorite right now, but he is little more than just a role player. The Knicks know this, but they are afraid of the backlash if they don’t re-sign him.
Sometimes doing the right thing means making the unpopular decision. Letting Lin go will not be popular this summer, but it will be the right thing for the future of the team.
General manager Glen Grunwald and owner Jim Dolan have to let their heads rule and show some courage. They need to let Lin go, despite his meteoric run last season.
They need the cap room and they need to make a responsible decision, even if the fans don’t like it immediately.