By Steve Kish
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. The time grows closer for the New York Knicks to keep their Linderella. Their media magnet. Linsanity is waiting, Knicks. Will you match the Houston offer? Will you keep the most talked about athlete in NYC? Looks as if you are letting your cash cow walk away as reports say the Knicks won’t match the Houston offer.
This seemed to be a simple answer. You keep Lin, you keep the media talking about the Knicks and Lin. Melo wants him back, Chandler wants him back and Amare wants him back. That’s a lot of green saying, “Bring him back.” Lin made the Knicks the hot ticket in town, the hot topic of sports talk radio. Lin was spectacular, amazing, brilliant even during that run the Knicks had. He was winning games when Anthony and Amare weren’t.
Lin brought electricity back into Madison Square Garden. He had the place rockin. Spike Lee even smiled, I swear. Lin puts butts in seats, his merchandise sells, oh and he plays a pretty good game. He reads the court and makes smart decisions and spectacular plays.
Before Lin got injured, he started 25 games and played 35 minutes against the Nets. In those 25 starts, he had 7 double digit assist games and five other games that he came within two assists of double digit assists. To add to that, he scored at least ten points in 22 of the 25 starts with ten of those being 20+ point games. Lin didn’t do his magic for three of five games, but he was consistent for 25 starts. Sure, throw in a bad game or two against Miami, Portland and Toronto, but that’s to be expected in the NBA. For the most part, Lin was either playing as well as or outplaying the other top point guards in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony called the contract that the Houston Rockets offered Lin “ridiculous” due to the third year, but it’s a brilliant move on Houston’s part. That third year is for $14.8 million, but with luxury tax penalties, it will cost the Knicks near $30 to pay for Lin that year. Is he worth that luxury tax? Absolutely. He brings the Knicks what they thought they would get in Melo, a big name for the media to talk about and merchandising out their ears. Now, the Knicks are expected to let Lin go. Houston made a brilliant move in how they drew up the offer sheet. The Knicks, though, had enough time to rationalize the importance of Lin to the franchise versus the possible luxury tax in the third year. This is what you have GMs for: to figure out the numbers and move contracts. That’s their job. The Knicks would have plenty of time to see what value they could get back for whoever they needed to move to get under the luxury tax. This says to New York Knick fans that the Knicks are willing to take a leap to win, willing to chance paying for a commodity.
Lin is young and still can learn and has a high capacity to do so. Yes, the Knicks signed Kidd, who already has embarrassed himself and the Knicks with his DWI this week. Sure, they traded to get Felton back. These moves all point to the Knicks moving on, but with players coming out saying they want Lin back and a fanbase that is dying for him back, how can the Knicks not ride Linsanity? Let him learn the game from future hall of famer Kidd. Let him take in what Felton has learned. Learning never stops, and Lin can only get better from what they teach.
In the first two years of the contract, Lin’s merchandise sales and the Garden full and rocking will help up revenue and ease the luxury tax penalty the third year. Linsanity reached so far it even affected the stock market last year as MSG stock rose and more talk of Lin and the Knicks hit airwaves. As it looks like the Knicks have backed out of the Linsanity race, Houston will cash in on Linsanity. Sure, they may overpay in the third year, but Houston is diverse, and Lin will be loved by the Rocket fanbase, and merchandise will fly off the shelves. Tick tock, tick tock Knicks, Houston is waiting for its Linderella; you still have a chance to show Lin the glass slipper.