Understanding New York's decision to let the phenom go the Houston Rockets
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) discuss Jeremy Lin's departure from New York.
Linsanity has left the building, everybody. Don't forget to tip your waitresses, bartenders, and Jimmy Dolan at the door.
Point guard, YouTube sensation, and budding cultural icon Jeremy Lin is going to the Rockets after the Knicks chose not to match Houston's backloaded, three-year offer to Lin. The so-called poison pill in the deal—a $14.8 million salary for Lin in the 2014-15 season—would have cost the Knicks roughly $43 million in salary and luxury tax penalties for Lin in that year alone. The Knicks were also upset that Lin apparently re-negotiated his offer with the Rockets to make it even more lucrative for him and financially unpalatable for New York.
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Of course, as Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang put it, "I cannot understand why anyone would care what James L. Dolan does with his money." Dolan was born into wealth, has done nothing to earn that wealth, and has been a better bandleader than NBA owner. But Kang takes it one step further, saying: "A team with Jeremy Lin is a better product for consumers than a team without Jeremy Lin."
That's where you lose me, and that's why I think letting Lin walk was the right move. For Knicks fans, who haven't seen their team win a title since 1973, the ONLY question worth asking is whether Lin gave the Knicks a better shot at a title than, say, Ray Felton and cap maneuverability. I say no, because of the Knicks' core of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. The Knicks need a pass-first point guard who has some shooting ability, knows how to work the pick-and-roll, and plays above-average perimeter defense. When Felton is motivated and in shape (like he was during his brief stint with the Knicks in 2010), he's all of those things. Meanwhile, Lin is an attack-first guard who needs to have the ball in his hands a lot, which is a problem when you play on the same team as Melo.
The Knicks are less interesting on paper now that Lin is gone. But they're more likely to contend for a championship. And that matters more to me.
Am I right, Patrick? Or I have been brainwashed by Dolan & Co.?