On Friday, Todd provided an overview of the Knicks’ point guard situation. The Knicks agreed to terms with free-agent Jason Kidd and have an opportunity to match Houston’s offer sheet for Jeremy Lin. Houston offered Lin a four-year, $30 million ‘poison pill’ contract that is heavily back loaded.
On the surface, that’s a large contract for a player who has only started a handful of games, been cut by multiple teams, and has been questioned about complementing Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. With Houston’s offer on the table, Lin is in the driver’s seat and will soon become a very rich man. However, playing in New York is not an easy task and should the Knicks match the Rockets’ offer, Lin will deal with the NY scrutiny for the next four seasons. Given his recent success in New York, should Lin head for a less stressful situation and join the Rockets?
James Dolan owned teams have always featured high-priced, immensely popular talents. In turn, these players help generate revenue on and off the court. Linsanity captivated New York for months last year, leading to high jersey sales and renewed interest in the Knicks. However, a knee injury derailed Lin’s season and the Knicks were eliminated by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the shortcomings in the playoffs, Lin was treated like a king and was even voted as New York’s most popular athlete. With that being said, can it get any better for Lin in New York? Even the most clueless sports fan may agree that Lin has seen his popularity peak and it would be wise for him to move on. It shouldn’t be hard for a Harvard graduate to figure it out.
If we take away the glamour of Linsanity for a second, consider the facts from last season. Before joining the Knicks, Lin had a trouble keeping a job in the NBA and was twice released from the Warriors and Rockets. Dead coach walking, Mike D’Antoni had no options left and just stuck Lin out there and he thrived. However, after D’Antoni quit and Carmelo Anthony returned, Lin wasn’t as nearly effective. Mike Woodson reverted back to a ‘Melo-based, isolation street ball offense that doesn’t complement Lin’s skill set. The Knicks will be Melo’s team for the foreseeable future and the offense will run through him. Lin knows he can be successful running an offense and may not want to play with the ball hogging enigma known as ‘Melo.
While Lin has showcased his skills on the court, most are enamored with his potential off-court earnings. There’s no doubt that New York presents multiple marketing opportunities, but don’t forget that Yao Ming was the face of the Rockets for nearly a decade. The Rockets are a ready made brand in the Asian market and there’s no doubt he’ll have his opportunities to make more money. In addition, the Rockets do not have the egos that the Knicks possess. Currently, Luis Scola is the Rockets’ top player and would give Lin a very good pick-and-roll partner. Houston is a low-stress environment that Lin could continue to flourish in.
Ultimately, most expect the Knicks to match Houston’s offer. Lin was Dolan’s Golden Goose last season and bringing him back will keep the butts in the seats and Lin jerseys on the backs. However, I believe Lin’s best career move would be to accept Houston’s offer. Playing basketball with the New York streetballers does not compliment Lin’s strengths. In addition, does Lin want to play alongside one of the NBA’s biggest primmadonnas for the next four seasons?