Never let it be forgotten that nicknaming the NBA offseason the "silly season" has become in vogue for a reason.
Less than two full days into the all-out negotiations scrum, we've seen deals that range from surprising to baffling to utterly insane—and very little in between. Perhaps the only dollar figure that did not raise eyebrows was Kyrie Irving's maximum-contract extension in Cleveland, though there are plenty of Twitter users who are happy to provide their hot takes on what defines a superstar.
But the height of insanity from the first two days of free agency had nothing to do with contracts. It wasn't Ben Gordon nabbing a $9 million deal. It wasn't Shaun Livingston netting the full mid-level in Golden State. Hell, it wasn't even Stan Van Gundy thinking Jodie Meeks was worth more than $6 million per season.
No, the apex of inanity can be found in the following images:
The Rockets will host Carmelo Anthony and have pictures of Carmelo in Rockets uniforms on Toyota Center marquis pic.twitter.com/2VfycvqlkN— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 2, 2014
ICYMI, this is the wall poster Carmelo Anthony likely saw when he entered the Rockets locker room. pic.twitter.com/vH8iquzx3E— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) July 2, 2014
What you see, of course, is Carmelo Anthony Photoshopped into a Houston Rockets jersey and strategically placed inside and outside the Toyota Center. The Rockets commissioned those images just in time for Anthony's arrival Wednesday, where he was wooed by James Harden, Dwight Howard, Daryl Morey and, apparently, Slim Thug.
You may recognize that gimmick from when the Bulls did it. Yesterday. In an almost identical fashion:
So where is the controversy? The Bulls do not currently have a player on their roster who wears Anthony's No. 7. The Rockets do. A not-so-unfamous kid by the name of Jeremy Lin, if memory serves. Lin is unquestionably the most oft-discussed sixth man on the planet, someone whose meteoric rise in New York endeared him to perhaps the league's most passionate fanbase.
When Lin is involved, the fangs come out and all rationality goes out the window. Lin's mentions on Twitter at the moment are a hilarious amalgam of feverish white-knighting, slander toward the Rockets' management and disparagement of Anthony.
The Rockets guard didn't do much to help calm the flames when he first subtweeted the situation with a Bible verse and then told a fan he felt disrespected—in what might be the most 2014 thing ever:
Luke 6:29 - If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) July 2, 2014
@EmodMarco im entitled to standup for myself/say i felt disrespected as i did thru tweet but point is love unconditionally/as jesus loved me— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) July 2, 2014
Granted, using the word "controversy" is patently insane.
Lin's tweets are the only part of this story that are even worth mentioning from a news standpoint. If he feels disrespected, he's perfectly within his rights to say so. Given the amount of time he's spent being shopped around the league since coming to Houston, it says a ton about his character that he hasn't been more of a malcontent.
Lin should be (bleeped) off.
We all—those of us who are not Jeremy Lin—should be able to view this much more rationally. The last time I checked, Anthony wore No. 7 last season. Were the Rockets supposed to just make a number up out of thin air to put on their images? Maybe going with No. 15, his college number and one he wore with the Denver Nuggets, would have prevented the controversy. Except, again, it would be presumptuous.
The Rockets had one job Wednesday: to recruit Carmelo Anthony. He is the final piece in the Big Three puzzle that Morey has tried to cobble together the last few seasons and the best free agent on the market—at least among those who are actually available.
Is it the classiest thing the Rockets have ever done? Probably not. But is it in any way bad for business? Absolutely not.
A divorce between Houston and its popular point guard is all but inevitable at this point. Everyone in the league knew coming into this summer that the Rockets needed to unload Omer Asik's and Lin's contracts to make a serious run at Anthony or any other top-level free agent. Asik was sent to the Pelicans before draft night. Lin is the next piece of the puzzle.
Morey doubled down on this strategy by allowing Chandler Parsons to hit unrestricted free agency. Should Houston time the moves right, it can sign a near-max player and match any offer sheet Parsons receives.
There's a reason Morey is viewed in league circles as a calculating genius. There is also a reason the Rockets are acting now: Their window dies the moment Parsons signs a deal.
Lin will be gone within the next couple weeks, and Bleacher Report's Howard Beck recently reported they already have a deal lined up.
If you're Jeremy Lin, this is maddening. For the second time in three summers, the same person has has had an active and arguably adverse affect on where you play basketball.
The number isn't a big deal; it's just a metaphor. The Rockets didn't even think enough to place a cursory call warning him of the situation, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
For everyone else, here is what the Rockets' "Photoshop controversy" should be: an amusing and mildly entertaining thing that happened. It should be and has been the fodder for jokes. Not some inane reason to stand on a pulpit and cry out like a member of your family has been insulted.
I likened it to Carmelo already having his toothbrush in Jeremy Lin's girlfriend's sink. Others have used much more creative metaphors:
.@JLin7 "Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don't." -Jay Z— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) July 2, 2014
They got Jeremy Lin tweeting scripture!!!!! Lmaooooo I love free agency!— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) July 2, 2014
When Jeremy Lin saw the Rockets put his number on Carmelo: pic.twitter.com/cIdT6DrN0Y— SportsNation (@SportsNation) July 2, 2014
Only our need to manufacture every small thing into a melodrama has this buzzing into a national story. I mean, were Bulls fans up in arms about the team disparaging the memory of Toni Kukoc? Will Ricky Ledo be sending out scripture when the Mavericks inevitably get their hands on a 30-day Adobe free trial?
Are we going to have to read a breathless 5,000-word column on a Lakers blog wondering what Anthony's recruitment means for Xavier Henry?
Of course not. That would be ridiculous. (But, nah, for real #staywoke, Ricky and Xavier.)
In lieu of feigning outrage, have some fun with it. Grab a Kermit the Frog meme and go to town. Create your own Photoshop image of other great moments of disrespect. Literally take the shirt off your best friend's back, snap him with it like you would a towel and say "you just got Lin'd, dog." GIF Lin onto a railroad with Carmelo as a mustache-twirling villain.
I don't care. Just take five seconds away from the self-seriousness social media engenders and be happy your boss can't recruit new employees by having him take your desk chair for the afternoon.
Leave the rage for someone whose life a Photoshopped number actually affects.
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