By Sean Hartnett
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In a New York Minute, you can become an instant star. Jeremy Lin’s unprecedented, unexpected rise from last man on the bench to the darling of “The Big Apple” proved this better than any athlete in recent memory. When you fail in this city, you can get torn down just as quickly.
Imagine if the Knicks had matched the Houston Rockets’, three-year $25.1 million dollar offer sheet and Lin’s faults were readily exposed on the court.
When Lin torched the Los Angeles Lakers for 38 points, there wasn’t significant game tape footage of Lin for the Lakers study. Now, opponents know Lin’s tendencies and his faults — which include making a high number of turnovers and a poor left hand.
There’s a strong chance Lin will struggle to come anywhere near the player produced by Mike D’Antoni’s unusual gun-and-run offense. We watched Lin’s turnovers and mistakes increase under Mike Woodson’s isolation offense.
Veteran guards such as Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are more adept at running isolation plays. Felton also got the best of out Amar’e Stoudemire in a Knicks’ uniform when the big man first arrived at Madison Square Garden.
Say what you want about Kidd’s off-court behavior, but his desire to win has never been questioned.
That hasn’t always been the case with Lin. Before Game 5 of the against the Miami Heat, Lin admitted he was “85 percent” healthy. Lin did not suit up for the shorthanded Knicks who were without Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis.
Sounds like a player who was trying to protect his free agent value, rather than playing through pain when his teammates needed him most.
On top of all this, the financial implications of keeping Lin were staggering. Cap space is precious in the NBA. The possibility of Lin being a non-contributor at the end of the bench — making $14.9 million dollars in the third year of his contract scared the Knicks off.
Had the Knicks matched the deal, they would be forced to pay in excess of $35 million dollars in luxury tax. You and I are not James Dolan. Even considering Dolan’s vast wealth and MSG/Cablevison empire, that’s a big check to cut.
All this for a player who never started an NBA game before the 2011-12 season and only has 64 career NBA games under his belt. There’s much higher chance that Jeremy Lin will struggle in his first full season in the league than becoming an NBA All-Star with the hapless Houston Rockets.
Jeremy Lin’s star burned brightly and illuminated New York for a brief time. Perhaps, now all it can do is fade…
Was keeping Lin a gamble the Knicks couldn’t take? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.