Jeremy Lin: Does Lin Even Want to Be on the Knicks?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJuly 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  NBA player Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks arrives at the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

For all the Lin love, for all his supposed adoring fans, few are asking this question: Are the Knicks right for Jeremy Lin?

Right now, in part due to quotes on the part of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, the answer would seem to be a resounding, "No."

Anthony, (via the Los Angeles Times, and some other outlets who transcribed his Team USA practice interview), described the Lin situation this way: "It's up to the organization to say they want to match that ridiculous contract that's out there." While Melo also declared "I would love to see him back," the former quote resonated louder, as it's unusual for players to publicly question a teammate's contract.

J. R. Smith described the mentality of some Knicks players with the following (via Complex Mag): "I think some guys take it personal because they've been doing it longer and haven't received any reward for it. I think it's a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys."

So it has been established that, were Dolan to match Houston's offer, Jeremy Lin would be returning to an imperfect locker room situation. It has been publicly revealed that certain teammates are bitter over his contract before such a deal is even official. 

That might not even be the worst of it, possibly. The Knicks have recently acquired Ray Felton and Jason Kidd. There's no telling whether Lin plays behind or in front of New York's recent acquisitions. Jeremy was the focal point of Mike D'Antoni's PG-heavy offense. Mike Woodson has clearly put the reins back in Carmelo Anthony's hands, relegating Lin to a mere server or observer.

And let's include the bigger picture while we're at it. Knicks fans love to cite the big market boost of playing in New York. They love to point out how Linsanity probably could not have happened in any other city. They are quite right to do so, but there are pros and cons to this New York proposition, and I'm not even talking about the tabloids. What about Dolan? What about a team that's so capped out that to pay Jeremy Lin reasonably would mean—via Deadspin—a $58 luxury tax hit? 

The Knicks have a brief window and a low ceiling. It would be different if Amare Stoudemire were right, but he's a shadow of a shadow of himself. Carmelo Anthony was a revelation at power forward, but Stoudemire's gigantic contract means that Melo is stuck at small forward. The Knicks cannot move Amare to the center position because it's defensively unwise, and Tyson Chandler mans the middle. In short, this team is a mess, even before their new (middle-aged) point guard wrapped a car around a pole. Is this the situation Jeremy Lin wants to come back to?

Contrast this with Houston. Daryl Morey is fresh out of point guards and happy to hand Lin the reins. The team has plenty of cap room and they're chasing Dwight Howard. If Jeremy Lin signs there, he might end up playing with the league's best center and a sunnier future. If Dwight doesn't sign, it's a rebuilding effort focused around Lin. There are no, to our knowledge, Rockets who bristle at his new contract. 

Not only that, but Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming are friends. When I spoke to Lin's former AAU coach, Jim Sutter, he revealed that the connection isn't just a media figment. The two are genuinely close. The Rockets could be Lin's opportunity to follow in his buddy's footsteps, reaching out to a community that Ming helped bring into the fold. 

This is what Knicks fans care to ignore as they forge forth with a petition to make James Dolan match Lin's Houston Rockets contract. It's quite possible that Dolan is doing Lin a service. It's possible that Jeremy Lin doesn't want to play for the Knicks.