By: Mike Wagenman
After the three-year, $9 million signing of 39-year old veteran Jason Kidd, the New York Knicks still have their sights set on bringing in a second point guard to go alongside Kidd. According to sources, the team is looking no further than their restricted free agent point guard Jeremy Lin. Everyone remembers how “Linsanity” took the basketball world by storm last year as Lin put on a show night in and night out during his magical half-season. However, the Houston Rockets have offered Lin a back loaded four-year, $28 million dollar deal, and Lin has accepted. The Knicks have already said they will match any offer for Lin up to $1 billion, but have yet to make a move. Fans and the media have mixed opinions about bringing Lin back to the Big Apple, but the right move would be to re-sign the Harvard alum.
This is a difficult decision for James Dolan and the Knicks front office, and they know all too well that their final decision will be scrutinized and evaluated based on the results. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why some think the Knicks should part ways with Lin.
Firstly, Lin was an undrafted rookie who bounced around between five teams in three different leagues before landing on New York’s bench. Since he arrived in New York, he only played in 35 games, and only started in 25 of those games. Granted, he had great success, but that is a very small sample size, especially for a nearly $30 million deal.
Secondly, he had a knee injury that landed him on the bench in street clothes for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. Knee injuries are always a concern and have a tendency to re-occur more than injuries to most other parts of the body. The Knicks would not be too pleased to have another Eddy Curry situation where they pay a player an exorbitant amount of money to wear a tie and not look overly bored on the corner of the bench.
Finally, Lin’s contract would be back loaded. For those unfamiliar, that means he would get most of his $28 million in the final two years of his four-year deal. With the hefty contracts of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler already on the books and seemingly not going anywhere, the Knicks could be in some financial trouble in a few years and may not have the cap space to bring in other solid players.
The cons of re-signing Lin seem daunting, but the positives outweigh the negatives in this situation.
The Knicks will insist until they are blue in the face that this is strictly a basketball decision. It’s not. It is mostly based on on-court benefits, yes, but the off-the-court camaraderie that “Linsanity” brings to New York is unable to be overlooked. The amount of Knicks and Jeremy Lin merchandise sold in the two months of “Linsanity” was incredible. New York City and Madison Square Garden was littered with Lin shirts, hats, advertisements, signs, even masks. Bottom line, the potential revenue that Lin could bring to the Knicks if the second coming of “Linsanity” is even half of what it was last year is huge.
Not to mention Lin’s heritage. As an Asian-American basketball player playing in New York, where the Asian population is very high, vast amounts of people will latch on just because of what Lin represents. It is national pride for a race that has not had many stars as far as basketball is concerned. Just look at how Yao Ming became an international superstar even before he took the floor for the first time in Houston. The Knicks would benefit greatly from having a consistent and loyal overseas market and fan base.
Moving on from the business aspects of re-signing Lin, let us finally take a look at why bringing him back to the ‘Bockers would reap benefits on the court for Melo and company. On a team like the Knicks, a solid point guard is essential, possibly the most essential position on the team. This is because they have so many scorers and shooters, and they need a player to get these guys the ball. Lin already has experience playing with the current Knicks players, all be it limited experience. But, it is better than none at all. He had success scoring (14.6 points per game) and dishing assists (6.4 assists per game) and he made his team better (15-10 during his 25 starts). He was a fan favorite in the Garden, and it was obvious that the Knicks fed off the energy from the home crowd. Crowd intensity is key to any team’s success; there is no denying that.
Finally, bringing back Lin to play and practice with one of the NBA’s all time greatest point guards points to all kinds of improvements. Kidd can mentor Lin on and off the court and make him a better all-around player and teammate. Who better to learn from than an NBA champion, a five-time all NBA first teamer, a 10-time All-Star, a four-time defensive first-teamer, and five-time NBA assist leader? Kidd could be the motor that keeps “Linsanity” going, and possibly even make him better. Lin is still young, and has plenty of time to learn the greater facets of the game from Kidd.
The Knicks must make it a point to re-sign Jeremy Lin to play alongside Jason Kidd. His marketability cannot be overlooked, and more importantly he can help the Knicks on the court and can improve from the teachings of Kidd.