Knicks’ management must feel at least a little awkward right now. On top of trying to compete in a strong eastern conference, they have to spend their entire season praying that Jeremy Lin flops in Houston, while he’s already gracing the covers of magazines, five minutes into the preseason.
The Knicks management have to pray that Jeremy Lin flops in Houston.
Sure, they feel good right now because they have their critics, who don’t really understand the game, spouting off things like ‘he only had 11 good games’– so they run with that rationale. Meanwhile when you speak to any true scout, basketball scholar or true point guard, they’ll tell you that eleven games was more than enough to come to the conclusion that Lin is a star, he just needs to be developed.
Of course they recited the obligatory “we wish him well” speech but how can they genuinely wish him well when they let someone with so much potential go?
I say they made a mistake. Barring the obvious marketing opportunities, here are my top seven reasons why:
1. He’s a solid, TRUE point guard. Of course he had a few slip-ups, it was his first time playing in the most competitive league in the world. It’s silly to believe there wouldn’t be an adjustment period for him when he’s playing the hardest position on the floor.
2. He’s gets it. You ever try to explain a motion offense to someone who isn’t as “quick” as you are? Good luck. People who lack a certain mental capacity find it hard to see anything objectively and are opposed to change; that means they’re extremely stubborn, adamantly against making adjustments and an ounce of constructive criticism is disrespectful to them. Lin’s level of intelligence is a rarity in the league and that, alone, is a reason to continue to work with him. All of the greats were very smart: Magic, Bird, Kobe, Stockton, etc.
In other words, SMART = GOOD
3. He IS a star. I’m not going to lie, I was late on the Linsanity train; I don’t know why, I just wasn’t romanced as easily as everyone else. The moment I knew he was a star was when the Knicks played the Lakers, in the garden. Lin ran circles around Kobe. He out hustled him, out scored him, out played him altogether. You don’t just outplay Kobe- especially when Kobe has a history of disrespecting the Knicks every time he plays in MSG. Right then and there I knew Lin was special.
4. They didn’t give him time to develop. Why do the Knicks have the habit of picking up diamonds and then tossing them like rocks? All Lin needs is a little TLC and real coaching to get the kinks out of his game and he’s good to go. Rondo needed it. Kobe needed it. Lebron needed it. Jordan needed it. No champion arrived in the league, a champion.
5. They let him go to appease the other “stars” on the team. I get it. How do you look Melo/Amar’e in the eye and say “we love you but we’re going to go ahead and pay Jeremy Lin the same salary- oh, and he’s the new face and star of the Knicks”? I don’t know how you do it and neither do Knicks management. Unfortunately, this justification doesn’t mean they’ll have a strong team and doesn’t hold Melo accountable.
6. He makes everyone else so much BETTER. When Lin was healthy: assists were up, Shumpert was playing up to his potential, everyone was playing better defense, Mike Woodson got a job and Tyson Chandler looked like a true All-Star. It’s crucial to point out two things- Melo wasn’t really present when Lin was killing and he made Tyson Chandler look like an All-Star (did I say that already?). When your big man is all of a sudden locking in solid double-doubles every night, blocking shots, throwing outlet passes- you look for the catalyst and you don’t let that catalyst go for anything. No offense to his game, I think he’s one of the great scorers of today…but who, on the team, has Melo made better?
7. If he can make it in NYC, he can make it anywhere. People don’t say that for no reason. The toughest thing to do is come up in New York and make it out alive. Fans will chew you up, spit you out, then do it again to make sure your spirit and dreams are really crushed. The fact is, the Knicks essentially made him believe that he can compete with the great guards out there, aka made him a star, and then handed him off. If that was the plan, it was executed perfectly.
There are so many hurdles that the Knicks have to leap over this season (with bad knees…sorry, too easy). They’re competing with the Brooklyn Nets, they have to prove that their [mature] picks make sense, they have to try to make the playoffs and they have to prove that Kidd/Felton is better than Lin. It’s a tough, battle up Mount Everest, but the Knicks are built for this…right?