Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Jeremy Lin turned his 25 career starts into $25 million dollars this summer.
In what turned out to be one of the most surprising NBA twists of the summer, the Knicks let Jeremy Lin walk and sign with the Houston Rockets.
It was a wild turn of events. The Knicks were never thought to be willing to let Lin go, considering their owner's tendency to spend for better or worse. Not even the Houston Rockets believed they'd eventually end up with the player they'll be paying nearly $15 million to in 2014.
"They told me when I signed there, 'We think it's an 80% to 95% [that the Knicks will match],'" Lin told GQ Magazine (h/t Hoops Rumors). "That was consistent with what everyone was saying to me."
To make a long story short, news broke (like this one from the New York Post) early in free agency that Houston was preparing to offer a 4-year, $28.8 million offer sheet to Linsanity. The Knicks made what turned out to be a tragic error, in tipping their hand too early. Almost immediately, there were reports confirming that New York would match the offer, as it wasn't as "poisonous" of a poison pill they were expecting.
After learning of the Knicks' intentions to match, Rockets' GM Daryl Morey may not have made the most ethical front office move, but he won Jeremy Lin by doing it. He re-wrote the offer sheet that the team originally agreed to with Lin during the free agent moratorium period. The offer sheet that was officially presented for Lin to sign was for three years, with a much more poisonous spike to a $14.8 million salary in year three.
It's hard to believe that Knicks boss James Dolan felt Lin was too expensive, so that explanation is out the window. There's speculation that Dolan ultimately passed on the budding star simply because he "duped" the organization by accepting Morey's revised offer (even though it was the only official offer presented to him).
Judging by Lin's decreased minutes under Mike Woodson, and Carmelo Anthony's description of the offer as "ridiculous," there's also speculation that the team was eager to ship out Lin all along.
Whatever the case was, the fact is that the Knicks let a 23-year-old point guard walk away for nothing.
On the surface, it sounds like a raw deal for New York. The team would be very good with Lin at the controls in 2012, but they're better off without him.
Lin provided incredible highlights and almost single-handedly lifted the team back into the playoff race last season, but suffered a season-ending injury that was a crushing blow to the Knicks' chances. When he was healthy, Lin was a turnover machine, committing more than five turnovers in 13 of his 25 starts.
Lin is on the fast track to success, but not fast enough to be the prime choice at the point for New York this year. And due to his steep price, letting Lin go will turn out to be for the best.
He still has plenty of kinks to work out, and with the Knicks decidedly going with a win-now group, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni are more ready for the big moments than Lin would have been. Just look at Lin's 1-of-11 shooting performance against Miami last season as an example.
In five starts this preseason for Houston, Lin has shot less than 20 percent in his first action since March knee surgery. He's averaged less than five points and 3.75 turnovers in 25 minutes.
Lin may go on to earn that contract, just as easily as he may turn out to be a bust for the Rockets. And based on the crop that Glen Grunwald hauled in to replace him in the immediate future, letting Jeremy Lin walk isn't as peculiar a choice as it originally seemed.
For fans of a team with severe point guard problems over much of the last two decades, letting go of a blossoming 23-year-old point guard was surely hard to swallow, but the success of this year's team should help ease that pain.