Why the New York Knicks Were Ignorant to Let Jeremy Lin Leave

Alex Field@@afield7Correspondent IIJuly 19, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 2012 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin should still be in New York, and the Knicks are foolish for letting him walk.

Lin will join the Houston Rockets, as they inked him to a three-year, $25.1 million contract on Wednesday.

New York is now left with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd as the point guards, as they decided not to match Houston’s offer sheet and let Lin leave.

The Knicks were reportedly turned off by the hefty sum due to Lin in the third year of his contract, $14.8 million, which would have left New York well above the luxury tax.

Regardless of how much money they would have had to shell out for Lin, re-signing him should have been their focus.

Linsanity swept through the entire nation and to some parts of the world. It ignited a fanbase that has largely been dormant in the past couple seasons and inspired hope.

And rather than guarantee the guy a payday and bring him back to Madison Square Garden, owner James Dolan left the front door open and told Lin to look for employment elsewhere.

Forget about Lin’s turnovers for a second, and remember that he made a lot of financial sense for Dolan and his Knicks brand.

Since Lin donned a New York jersey, the Madison Square Garden Company has added $600 million in value.

That financial spike was not because of Amar'e Stoudemire punching fire extinguishers or Mike D’Antoni getting fired, it was because of an exciting point guard tearing through NBA defenses like they were middle school JV teams.

With Lin leading the charge, the Knicks went from pretenders to contenders, and he finished the season with a 19.9 PER in 35 games played, which ranked 35th in the league.

Kidd and Felton ranked 237th and 221st, respectively, in the same category. Obviously, Lin has some game.

Fans may be quick to criticize his well-publicized turnover problem, but Lin turned the ball over less than Kidd and was only a little bit behind Felton. Lin ranked No. 252 in turnovers, whereas Felton ranked No. 244.

In the end, it was not a basketball decision that led to Lin’s departure from New York. For some reason, the Knicks felt like Lin was not worth the money over the course of three years.

But the thing about it is that even if Lin did not live up to the contract he signed, the Knicks had options when it came to getting under the luxury tax.

If Linsanity was actually an aberration and he reverts back to his old, less-talented form, the Knicks could have used the “stretch provision.”

According to ESPN’s Larry Coon, with the provision, the Knicks could have waived him and stretched the payment of his salary over three seasons.

This would then reduce their luxury tax and deem Lin’s contract agreeable.

But, in classic Dolan fashion, he let emotions get the best of him and let one of the most recognizable players in the NBA skip town for nothing.

Lin told Sports Illustrated, “"Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me.”

If he wanted to return to the Big Apple, and he represents so much additional money because of jersey and ticket sales, why not bring him back?

That’s what is so puzzling about this entire saga.

Dolan reportedly felt deceived by Lin, according to the New York Daily News, although the Knicks told Lin they would match any offers.

Apparently not, as Lin found a deal that did not sit well with Dolan, and the headman felt swindled by his exiting point guard.

But since when do players owe anything to ownership?

Sure, Lin was seemingly nearly out of the NBA when the Knicks gave him a shot. But, it wasn’t until the Knicks were out of options that Lin really got an opportunity.

Former head coach Mike D’antoni told the New York Post that Lin got lucky because the Knicks were playing so poorly that he put Lin in as a desperation move.

Well that desperation move surely paid off for Dolan and the Knicks, as they felt the effects of Mr. Lincredible through a huge spike in value.

The relationship was great for both sides while it lasted, but both sides decided to move on, for better or for worse.

Lin will certainly keep the Rockets relevant moving forward; as for the Knicks, it’s just another example of the brilliance of Jim Dolan.