NBA Free Agents 2012: Why New York Knicks Will Regret Letting Jeremy Lin Walk

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012: Why New York Knicks Will Regret Letting Jeremy Lin Walk

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    Going into free agency, it was widely assumed that the New York Knicks would match any offer sheet signed by point guard Jeremy Lin.

    His storybook tale seemed like one destined for a New York setting, and ESPN.com's Marc Stein was told by a source that the team would match offers up to "$1 billion."

    Well, apparently, $25.1 million is the new billion.

    According to reports, the Knicks have had a change of heart after acquiring Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers and will now allow Jeremy Lin to head south to the Houston Rockets.

    And this is absolutely the wrong decision.  Follow along for the reasons the Knicks will regret allowing Lin to leave NYC.

Marketability

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    Say what you will about Lin's nearly $15 million balloon salary in the final year of his three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, but that money is negligible compared to the overseas marketing money the point guard could potentially rake in.

    For one of the few NBA teams that essentially prints money, Lin's presence could have been yet another revenue-generating asset for a Knicks franchise that probably be a luxury-tax team so long as this nucleus is in place.  

    And placing Linsanity in the mecca of the melting pot society in New York City would do nothing but attract more people to Madison Square Garden.  

Lin Could Actually Be a Star...

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    In the 26 games he received extended minutes in what was essentially his season, Lin averaged 18.5 points per game, 7.7 assists per game and 2.0 steals per game with an average game score of 14.1. 

    To contrast, Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving averaged 18 points per game, 5.4 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game and a game score of 13.5. 

    And, if you remember correctly, Irving's campaign was lauded as one of the best rookie seasons for a point guard in NBA history, and he's considered a surefire future star.

    The same cannot be said for Lin.  While some are still aboard the Linsanity bandwagon, there is a growing majority of people who think his magical run was a mirage and he'll never reach that level of play again.  

    One has to wonder why Lin isn't afforded the same praise.

...And Even If He's Not a Star He's Probably Better Than Raymond Felton

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    Those in favor of the Knicks choosing to bring back Felton in favor of Lin seem married to his 17.1 points per game and 9.0 assists per game the point guard put up during his 54-game Big Apple stint in 2010-11.

    But if I'm not mistaken, aren't those basically the same stats I just noted for Lin's 26-game rise to fame?

    And didn't Felton show up in Portland completely out of shape and clash with former Blazers coach Nate McMillen throughout this past season?

    Factoring in Felton's seven-year track record of below-average shooting, someone's going to have to remind me why people think Felton over Lin is a good decision, contract notwithstanding. 

Lin's Departure Shines an Unfair Spotlight on Carmelo Anthony

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    While most seemed laser-focused on Anthony calling Lin's offer sheet "ridiculous", the far more telling quote for me came later through Melo's text-message conversation with Yahoo! Sports:

    "It's up to ownership to match, not me," Anthony said. "I'm tired of people trying to blame me for the fact that the Knicks might not match. I want everybody to get paid if they have the opportunity."

    The fact that Carmelo is aware enough to realize that the masses will blame him, not Knicks management, if the team fails to match Lin's offer is striking.  Everyone knows that no crowd rains the boo birds down like a New York crowd, so it could be interesting to see what type of reaction Anthony gets if he struggles early and Lin shines in Houston.

    And let's just say that there aren't many championship banners raised when an entire fanbase is outraged with their team's superstar.

When Has a Team Not Regretted Getting Rid of Lin?

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    During the height of Linsanity it seemed like you couldn't go a day without hearing an NBA executive bemoaning their decision to pass on Lin or cut him altogether.  

    The man who just inked Lin's offer sheet, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, was among those who regretted his decision.

    "We should have kept [Lin]," Morey said responding to a fan on his Twitter account. "[We] did not know he was this good.  Anyone who says they knew [is] misleading [you]."

    And, as the world's oldest cliche in the world goes, if you do not learn from history, you are bound to repeat it.  Allowing Lin to walk may be yet another example of that historical truth.