Jeremy Lin is an international sensation. The Asian-American point guard with a Harvard degree made a major splash in the NBA, American pop culture and the global market in 2012-13. However, his recent big contract offer is no different than others this offseason, nor should it be treated as such.
Lin's claim to fame in 2012 was a "rags to riches" story. Twice put on waivers by other teams, Lin eventually attained the opportunity to start for the Knicks last February. Lin put up some nice numbers as the team's starting point guard: 18 points and eight assists on 44% shooting in 25 games as a starter.
Lin was a defensive liability while he averaged five turnovers a game and saw a steep decline in his numbers from February to March. These issues were of no import in the NBA offseason. The Houston Rockets still offered Lin a three year back-loaded contract worth $25 million dollars. In the last year of that contract, Lin will get paid $15 million, whether he turns out to be an all-star or a bench player.
It's easy to single out Houston's extravagant offer to Jeremy Lin as "Linsanity." Certainly, "Linsanity" is a hot story that allows everyone on the planet to speculate on how Lin's global market value should factor into his contract price.
But really, Lin's massive contract with not a question of "Linsanity." It's the entire NBA market that is insane.
For an NBA that is supposed to be going through enough financial difficulty to have had a season scarring lockout in 2012, its owners aren't acting like it.
This is a financially vulnerable NBA throwing $25-30 million multi-year contracts at plenty of unproven players with insufficient starting experience (Goran Dragic, Omar Asik), $46 million on pure talent alone (Nicolas Batum) and $55 million max contracts at good centers with glaring flaws (Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert).
Are big market NBA owners worried about the NBA's impending luxury tax penalties in 2013-14? A two word response will suffice: Mikhail Prokhorov.
The Nets billionaire owner has three multi-year max contracts on his financial "balance sheet" (Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams), and another $40 million contract for Gerald Wallace.
Sure some of those luxury tax penalties will be re-distributed to smaller franchises. By the time those payments are made, however, those small market franchises will need to pray that all the star players aren't already locked up in multi-year deals by wealthy owners who don't care if they are taxed in the first place
This kind of behavior in the NBA is somewhat similar to our entire financial district over the past several years. Sure, those businesses are "struggling," but they recklessly shell out multi-million dollar bonuses to executives when their bottom-rung employees and clientele struggle to feed their families.
Why should NBA executives be any different?
And while you ask yourself that, ask if Jeremy Lin's offer really has been any different from other players this offseason, or in the recent past.