How about we throw away the greatest thing to happen to Knicks basketball in the last decade? Classic Knicks.
To the dismay of many Knicks fans, they let Jeremy Lin walk. He was one of the biggest surprises in NBA history and parlayed his success into New York legend status in 26 games and 50 days. That’s all it took for his jersey to become the No. 2 selling jersey this year in the NBA.
People will say he took advantage of New York, turning the media and the hype into a $25 million payday. But the Knicks used him back, and went further.
‘Linsanity’ renewed New York’s interest in a flailing Knicks team at the time, which the Knicks then used to settle their cable tv dispute and charge millions more in money. MSG’s stock platooned and Knicks’ ticket and apparel sales skyrocketed during Lin’s amazing run. They even sold out next season’s season tickets early because of him.
Still they let Lin leave. They let the most marketable, exciting player in Knicks basketball since Patrick Ewing leave.
With Lin, the Knicks could have become a global team, marketing themselves in Asia just as the Yao Ming-Houston Rockets did. But the Knicks could have done it better because well Houston is no New York. They could have had their own cable tv deal with China and you can be sure, companies would have paid big for those tv rights.
All this could have been reality had they kept Lin, and that’s even if he didn’t play as spectacular as he did before. He just had to be the Knicks starting point guard.
But they backed off because of $15 million owed to Lin in the third year of the deal would cause too much luxury tax penalties. Plain stupid. The Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable franchise. They would have made all that money back, and more.
Knicks owner, James Dolan, let the decision become personal, feeling cheated by Lin’s dealing. Even stupider. Last week when Houston offered Lin a 4-year, ~$29 million deal, with the last two years worth $9.3 million each, the Knicks said they would “absolutely” match and Lin would “absolutely” be their starting point guard next season. A few days later, Lin and the Rockets signed a 3-year, $25 million deal with the last year at $14.8 million.
Dolan felt betrayed. He felt the Harvard kid took advantage of him by turning the leverage that the Knicks were ‘definitely’ going to bring him back into a heftier contract.
Dolan and the Knicks should know better though. You don’t show your hand in a poker game, it’s as simple as that. The Knicks did, and Jeremy Lin, just like every other NBA player would, did the smart thing and upped the antae. The NBA’s a business.
The Knicks played it that way too, by not offering Lin a contract when free agency began. Instead they told him to find his worth on the open market, and they would match. Well he did, and they didn’t.
Now the Knicks are left with Raymond Felton as their starting point guard. Does anyone think Felton will make the Knicks relevant? Will he make money for them off-the-court? Hey most importantly, will he give them the best chance to win? He wasn’t a better player than Lin last year, and won’t be going forward. Lin’s on the rise, and Felton has reached his peak.
You have to feel for Knicks fan though. Letting Lin go was another typical dumbfounded move by Knicks management. In the last two years, they gave Amare Stoudemire 5 years, $100 million and Tyson Chandler 4 years, $58 million. Hey Carmelo, now those are some “ridiculous” contracts.
Well at least the Knicks are consistent.