The New York Knicks caught a great deal of flack from fans and the media alike when they declined their option at matching Jeremy Lin’s contract at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. The contract offer in question was 3 years at $25.1 million, going to a player who had started a mere 25 games in his career at that point.
Many people, Carmelo Anthony included, called Lin’s offer ridiculous. The Knicks obviously agreed and passed on matching. However, those fans obsessed with Linsanity insisted that the Knicks were making a horrible mistake.
Fast-forward to tonight. The Rockets dismantle the Knicks 131-103 and the headlines scream that Lin’s Rockets defeat his former team. Note they are now Lin’s Rockets, despite Lin not leading any statistical category for the team.
Don’t get me wrong, Lin played a solid game, but it was by no means his performance that won it for the Rockets, but rather that of Chandler Parsons and James Harden. But of course, my fellow members of the media insist that the Knicks should be regretting letting Lin go, a ludicrous statement if I’ve ever heard one.
First, Lin wasn’t even the best addition to the Rockets through free agency. That would be Omer Asik. Asik is a young, dominant big man, with a defensive presence unrivaled among players his age. Despite his offensive struggles, Asik was worth every penny paid to him, and more.
Without Lin the Knicks are off to one of their best starts in recent years. By no means is this because Lin isn’t on the team, but rather it’s because of the duo they added at point guard. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are the exact players this team needed.
Kidd is leading the team in steals and Felton in assists (a category where Kidd is no slouch either.) This combination of skills is much more valuable than Lin, a player who while explosive at times, took far more than his fair share of shots, and missed a good portion. The Knicks already have a player who does, and should, take all the shots: Carmelo Anthony. And Anthony taking shots is what that team needs. Although he’s played a far cry from his potential since coming to New York, Anthony is still one of the most dynamic, talented scorers in the NBA, and an Anthony-led team doesn’t need a point guard throwing up shots.
Linsanity may have been exciting, it may have been a month of glory for underdogs, but it was going to die whether Lin was in New York or playing in Spain. He’s shooting an atrocious 33% from the field and under 23% from beyond the arc. Numbers like that are not what New York needed to be clearing out payroll to keep.
Lin is a quality player, and a great addition to Houston, but he’s not worth what he was paid and the Knicks’ decision to let him go has led to them developing into one of the top teams in the East. So despite the ugly loss and the influx of Lin-centered headlines, Glen Grunwald should sleep soundly tonight.