CHICAGO, April 13, 2012 — On February 4, Jeremy Lin smashed his name into our lexicon in a way that only Tim Tebow could really understand. That day, the unsuspecting New Jersey Nets were victim to Lin’s 25 points, and New York fans were struck with the idea that their team’s offense could be something other than awful, a truly incredible feat, considering their two superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are hardwired to take 20 shots per game.
Lin, unfortunately, was a curse in disguise for the Knicks. Don’t misinterpret this. He’s an elite player and will be one for several years to come, but he was an elite point guard in Mike D’Antoni’s point guard-worshipping system without at least one of his superstar teammates at all times. Next year, he’ll be a point guard in a traditional system with both of his superstar teammates. The Knicks shouldn’t even bother letting that happen; Lin’s the wrong kind of player.
First and foremost, Lin’s ascension in the twitterspehere world of hype wasn’t unwarranted. In 14 games in February, Lin averaged 21 points and over eight assists, the kind of numbers that most NBA teams dream of getting from their starting field generals. He pulled the Knicks out of a horrendous slump, winning eight of nine games and pulling them back into the playoff picture with his electric play and seemingly neverending magic.
However, now it’s time to say thank you, and goodbye.
Whoever coaches the Knicks next year, whether it’s Mike Woodson or someone else, won’t lean on Lin as much as resigned coach D’Antoni did in his tenure. No one can lean on a point guard as much as that man. It’s not possible. The next coach of the Knicks will see that Lin enjoys throwing 15 shots up as much as anyone, and also see that those are 15 possessions that typically don’t end with good shots. After seeing the way Carmelo’s been playing with Baron Davis running the point, Knicks fans would start to get frustrated with Lin’s questionable shot selection, and Stoudemire would join Anthony in wondering why those shots aren’t going to them.
This would seem to suggest that Lin at the same price wouldn’t even be worth it anymore. But for the cash Lin will be demanding next year? That would be as cost-efficient as a Kardashian wedding. Lin went on a brilliant run this year but was injured just as he was starting to cool down and settle into a more sustainable groove. Next year, he’ll be paid like a man that can be Linsane on a nightly basis, but the money won’t be coming from the Knicks.
The Knicks are already in terrible salary cap position as it is, owing $41 million to only three players, so giving Lin the money that he’ll be asking for doesn’t seem like a logical, let alone possible, decision. There’s no room for Lin on the roster, but more importantly, there’s no room for Lin’s paycheck on the Knicks’ books.
Jeremy Lin was the best thing to happen to the Knicks this year and the story of the NBA season. But the Knicks would be much better off offering his paycheck to a championship-craving Steve Nash if anyone, and Lin’s shooting volume makes him a much better fit for a team like Charlotte with money to burn and a desperate need to get more than 90 points per game.
Lin played tremendously for the Knicks and they wouldn’t have this chance to make the playoffs without him. He’s been everything they asked of him, but after this season, it’s time for Lin to go.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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