Jeremy Lin is Gone

I’m so pissed at the Knicks. How could they allow Jeremy Lin to leave? The only thing that makes me angrier than watching my favorite player leave my favorite team is to listen to all the “experts” tell me it was the “right decision” for the Knicks. I had to hear this crap on my ride home from work on Tuesday night (1050 ESPN) then again on SportsCenter when I got home then again on WFAN this morning. Here are the nuggets of knowledge dropped by ESPN’s “NBA Insiders”:

1. “If the Knicks matched the offer, Lin would cost them $50 Million in the 3rd year of his contract [because of the Luxury Tax].  He’s not worth it!”

2. “Jeremy Lin was only good for two weeks.”

3. “No one knows what Jeremy Lin will be.”

4. “For Jeremy Lin to become a top 10 poing guard in the NBA would require another huge leap for him—equivalent to the leap he made from bench player to starter.”

5. “There is no way Lin can pay for himself! The Knicks are sold out for every game—Lin isn’t going to increase their revenue.”

6.  “Lin does not want to play in New York.”

So I found myself literally yelling at my car radio. There’s no way I was going to call in to the radio show. I’ve done that before. I’d get placed on hold for an hour to wait for the opportunity to have the jackass host cut me off before I could make my point. But I really needed to make my point. Or maybe more than one point.

My wife loved Lin too—he transcended basketball and created fans out of people that never watched an NBA game in their life. My wife has never been a sports fan—she half-heartedly roots for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks because she married into it. She never watched an NBA game in her life before last year. After Linsanity began, she watched 20 games in a row, screaming at the TV like I do. But with all due respect to her, (I love you baby) she would not appreciate my rant as much as true sports fans. So I decided to write them down—my rant responses to the idiot ESPN NBA Insiders:

1. “If the Knicks matched the offer, Lin would cost them $50 Million in the 3rd year of his contract. He’s not worth it!”

There is no scenario where the Knicks would have paid the luxury tax in year three of Lin’s contract. Had the Knicks matched the Houston offer sheet, there would have been 3 possible outcomes:

a) Lin does not live up to the way he played in 25 games last year and he is not a starter at the end of year two of his contract.  Result:  Knicks trade him for whatever they can get for him—they eat the $15 Million (minus what they can get for him) and move on. Risk / downside = $15 Million.  Not $50 Million.

b) Lin DOES live up to his numbers he put up during 25 games last year (see below for those numbers). The Knicks would keep him. But they almost certainly would not pay the Luxury tax.  There are lots of options to avoid this tax. They could re-sign Lin to a five year deal that is back-weighted, reducing the year 2014-2015 payout to stay below the cap. They could resign Anthony, Stoudemire, or Chandler’s to a back-weighted contract (all three will be in the final year of their contracts when Lin is in his 3rd year). They could trade one of those three players. I already hear the experts saying “They wouldn’t re-do those contracts or trade one of those guys just to keep Lin”.  Yes they abso-fuckin-lutely would, because if he maintained the numbers he put up in the 25 games last season he would be one of the best point guards in the league. Not to mention an international sensation that tripled the Knicks fan base and doubled MSGs ratings.

c) Lin is a starter, but just an average point guard. In this case they would either take the approach in Outcome #1 or Outcome #2, depending on his other intangibles and the other business considerations (see below).

2. “Jeremy Lin was only good for 2 weeks.”

Lin’s averages for the 25 games he played significant minutes (starting February 4th when he played 35 minutes against the Nets and ending March 24th when he played his last game of the season) are:

18.5 PPG, 7.7 APG

That puts him at 7th on the list of top scoring NBA guards and 4th on the list for assists by guards. There are only six other PGs in the league that made the top 10 list in both categories: Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Jalen Rose, Chris Paul and Ty Lawson. Heard of those guys?

So for the 25 games (7 weeks, not 2 weeks!) he was absolutely a top 10 point guard in the NBA.

3. “No one knows what Jeremy Lin will be”

Well no, no one does know with 100% certainty what Jeremy Lin will be. But 25 games is not an insignificant sample size. It’s not like he played five games at an incredibly high level. Or 10 games. 25 games IS significant.

Why is it that 90% of NBA “experts” are assuming those 25 games were a fluke? It’s not like he played a season or two of mediocre basketball in the NBA and then had this incredibly fluky 25-game stretch. These were the first 25 games that he was given a chance to play! And he put up amazing numbers!

I hate to pull out the race card (well maybe I don’t because being a white man I’ve never really had an opportunity to use it) but I really need to ask: If J Lin were black, would every expert assume his performance was a fluke and that he will be just an average point guard next season? I honestly don’t think they would. I think the fact that he doesn’t fit the mold of the great NBA point guard has a lot to do with the lack of respect he is getting and the pervasive opinion that he’s just an average player, despite 25 games that prove otherwise.

What is the logic behind assuming Lin will play at a different level next year? I seriously cannot understand why that’s the opinion of so many experts. The only “explanations” I hear go something like this: “He was in the stratosphere last year. There’s no way he can maintain that. He has to come back down to earth.” I don’t get it. Why isn’t there any way he can maintain that?

4. “For Jeremy Lin to become a top 10 PG in the NBA would require another huge leap for him—equivalent to the leap he made from bench player to starter.”

See above. Lin was a top 10 point guard for the only 25 games he played! Why believe he is anything other than what he proved himself to be on the court?

5.  “There is no way Lin can pay for himself!  The Knicks are sold out for every game—Lin isn’t going to increase their revenue.”

Bullshit. The Knicks are owned by Madison Square Garden Inc, who also owns the MSG network. After just ONE WEEK of Lin starting for the Knicks, MSG ratings were up 109% over the first 20 games of the season. Yes, Lin doubled their ratings. LIN did. No one else,  just Lin. How much is that worth?

At the peak of Linsanity the MSG Inc stock price had risen about 10% from it’s point just before Linsanity—that translates into an equity increase on the company’s balance sheet of about $250 million. During that same stretch the S&P 500 rose about 1 %.

Since the rumors started of Lin leaving the Knicks for the rockets (July 6), the MSG stock price has fallen over 10%.  The S&P 500 has actually gone up during that period.

In December of 2011, Time Warner stopped carrying MSG because of a dispute over fees. That was costing MSG Inc about $17 Million every six weeks. The dispute was 37 days old when Lin became the starter and there was no end in site. Before Linsanity, nobody gave a shit that Time Warner wasn’t carrying MSG because no one wanted to watch the Knicks!  Eleven days after Lin started for the first time, the dispute was resolved and everyone with knowledge of the resolution credited Linsanity.

Lin is absolutely generating HUGE sums of money for MSG. There’s no reason to believe that the increased MSG ratings would not continue next year if Lin were resigned. But now? Who exactly am I tuning in to watch? Felton? Thomas? Camby?

6.  “Lin does not want to play in New York.”

Well that’s the rub. I think that’s probably an accurate statement. Lin did not HAVE to sign the offer sheet with Houston. He could have gone back to the Knicks and told them what Houston put on the table, in order to see if the Knicks would give him similar numbers (without the balloon payment in the 3rd year). He chose not to go back to the Knicks—he and his agent chose to sign the offer sheet knowing it would make it very difficult for the Knicks to match it.

Do I blame Lin for this? Not really. I think if I were in his shoes I would not want to play for the Knicks either. The Knicks have bet everything on Carmelo Anthony. All of the same NBA Insider idiots who said the things above also say the Lin can’t hold a candle to Anthony: “Anthony is a proven commodity—one of the most dominant scorers in the NBA.  An elite player.”

Yes, Anthony is one of the best scorers in the league—there’s really no disputing that. He is a top five offensive player.  But he is NOT an elite player.  He is widely considered one of the laziest players in the league. He does not play defense (well he occasionally plays defense when he feels like it). He is constantly out of shape—just look at him!  Skinny on top and soft in the middle. Hit the freakin’ gym once in a while!

His record in playoff games is among the worst in the NBA—13 wins, 37 losses.

He got his head coach fired last year by pouting and not playing defense.

Why the Knicks would build their franchise around this guy is beyond me. The Knicks will never win a championship with him. Never, never, never!

If you were J Lin and you had the choice to be this guy’s teammate or take your chances with a group of young hungry guys (sort of like the group of young hungry guys that won all those games when Anthony and Stoudemire were out during Linsanity), what would you choose?

So even though I watched every Knick’s game after Lin started last year, I don’t expect to watch more than a couple or few games this year.

I already know how this season goes—Knicks finish with 45 or 50 wins. They get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Melo and JR Smith and Felton blame someone or something else (injuries, Woodson, refs). Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert continue to play 100% on both ends of the floor, and show on-the-court leadership. Melo and Felton ignore this leadership as much as possible and under-achieve.

Go Knicks. Yay. Rah. Rah.

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Author: PJ

PJ grew up in a tiny town in Sullivan County, NY (Roscoe) where his childhood revolved around basketball. As a kid he would play pickup games at his neighbor’s house until his fingers bled. As a teen He idolized Julius Erving and loved watching the 76’ers in the years when Dr. J played with Chocolate Thunder, Mo Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and Andrew Toney. PJ played high school ball and helped his tiny school win its first 3 league and sectional titles in 30 years, breaking the school record for assists along the way. His two major regrets in high school were that he was unable to palm the ball without the use of stick’em, which he feels would have doubled his # of dunks, and he was unable to grow a sweet-looking mullet because his hair was too curly. As an adult he’s been a casual NY Knicks fan for 20+ years, with some periods of more intense fandom during the 90’s when Ewing and company made their deep runs into the play-offs, and especially during the brief Linsanity period in 2012. He tries never to miss the NBA slam dunk contest, and loves seeing historic dunks (Griffin over Perkins, and Gerald Green’s best-dunk-of-all-time). He’s also a big fan of the NY Jets and the NY Mets, and subsequently has been on Suicide watch since 1999. PJ likes popular culture, and has a soft spot in his heart for the epic cheesiness of the 80s, and for current shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. PJ currently lives in New Fairfield, CT with his wife Youk and 3 children and is probably the most dangerous mini-van driving software engineer in his town.

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