As the seconds ticked away on Wednesday night, the Knicks faced the realization of another first round exit and another off-season filled with many questions. With over $50 million committed to the Big 3 of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, the Knicks won’t be able to do much fishing in the free agent pool. However, the Knicks most prized free agent acquisition, Jeremy Lin, remains the most important piece for next year’s team.

Prior to Game 5, Lin told reporters that he was 85 percent healthy after undergoing knee surgery two months ago. Recently, Lin has been participating in shoot arounds, but has failed to appear in a game. First off, Lin is 85 percent healthy and not willing to at least give it a shot? I’m sorry, but that’s completely inexcusable. Subliminally, what is he trying to say about the team? They have no shot to come back against the Heat?

Plus, we watched Kobe run around with nearly a gallon of IV fluid in his system last night while every player on the Boston Celtics is playing through injuries. At this point, every player is dealing with injuries and ailments. Lin could have at least gone out there and tried to play. Half of Jeremy Lin would have been better than the corpse of Mike Bibby and the shredded knee of B-Diddy. Completely inexcusable by Lin and the media for not making a big story out of it.

With that being said, Lin is the most important piece of the Knick puzzle. Without him, the Knicks back court was an absolute mess. During his brief time as the starting point guard, we saw flashes of brilliant from the Harvard product. Spectacular passes, great finishes, clutch shots. The dude can play. Regular season success is predicated by guard play and Lin answering the call will be instrumental in the Knicks success next season. He doesn’t need to average 20-10 per game to get it done, either. He has a plethora of great scoring options around him–he just needs to get them the ball.

Last year, no one knew who Jeremy Lin was. Now, Lin and his Knick team mates need to spend time together this off-season. They need to work on pick-and-roll plays, they need to work on getting the ball to Lin in space, and most importantly, they need to let him run the show.

All roads in the Eastern Conference will run through Miami and the Knicks have two players that can capitalize on Miami’s deficiencies. Tyson Chandler has proven he can play great defense, shoot well from the field, and beat Miami in big games. The Heat don’t have an answer at center, so Chandler’s involvement will be key. In addition, the Heat are weak at point guard. Lin and the Knicks can use this to their advantage as they can run Lin off of screen to set up shots.

Granted, Lin and his Knick team mates will need to spend a lot of time together this off-season. Forget about Steve Nash–he’s too old and will likely be too pricey for the Knicks. Instead, Lin is bigger, stronger, and faster than old man Nash. Protecting the ball and creating shots for his team mates will be his goal next season. Here’s to hoping Jeremy gives a better effort this off-season, opposed to his involved this post-season.