James Dolan and Mike Woodson need only blame themselves for the poor start to this season. Two years ago, a young Asian American took the world and the NBA by storm and brought winning basketball back to New York during Carmelo Anthony’s absence. With Jeremy Lin once again surprising all critics with back-to-back 30 plus point games, it’s a mystery how the Knicks let this asset walk away from New York for nothing.
As a former point guard, I loved Lin. He had great energy, made the players around him better and knew how to win. Because he is Asian, because he played his college ball at Harvard, he is not the stereotypical NBA point guard. Woodson, however, didn’t love him, and the Knicks allowed him to walk for nothing. His marketing and media value alone would have made his signing cost effective. But as soon as the season ended, they immediately pursued Steve Nash, a great, but aging point guard and when that failed, they signed Jason Kidd. Lin was never a priority. I ask “why?”
Consider that the Knicks allowed Lin to leave because they didn’t want to match his contract, 3 years for $25 million. However they signed Jason Kidd for three years at $9 million, wasting last years mid level exception. Then they did a sign and trade for Marcus Camby, whose contact was for $13.2 million, making he and Kidd a combined $22.2 million. In addition, the Knicks gave Houston two second round picks in 2014 and 2015 in the Camby trade. Collectively, that equates to $22.2 million for two players that were past their prime and are no longer with New York and two potential players that the Knicks won’t get to draft.
The Knicks never would have signed Kidd if they knew he was only going to play one year, but they wanted a different look at point guard. Lin rose to his potential during Mike D’Antoni’s tenure. Woodson never fully embraced him; he preferred a veteran presence, as seen by his preference for Baron Davis that season. Woodson’s veteran style was also seen in the excessive minutes he gave Kidd. Kidd added salt to the wound by moving to Brooklyn, again with no compensation.
The Knicks signed Raymond Felton at $3 million per year when they knew that Lin wouldn’t return a Knick. Money was not an issue as the cost of Felton, Kidd, Camby and Felton, clearly exceeded Lin’s contract. Losing young assets like Lin and Chris Copeland and building an old roster that didn’t last cost Glen Grunwald his job.
Felton, upon coming to New York, proclaimed to be the better point guard. He promised New York he would make them forget Jeremy Lin. Well he has not proven to be better, and New York has not forgotten his statements. Felton continues to struggle and has trouble scoring 15, let alone 30 points. Felton is not a bad player, but his limitations have been apparent this season. Lin was exciting during his tenure in New York: he won many a game with his clutch shooting and his penetration opened the court for the Knicks’ shooters. He wanted the ball at game’s end and delivered. The Knicks have a second tier backcourt, definitely not championship caliber. I can assure you by now Steve Mills knows this.
Lin has now scored over 30 points in his last two games, one of which was off the bench — not easy for any point guard. Last night he scored 34 points with 12 assists, on 10-19 shooting, 9-15 from the 3 point line. His 9 three pointers tied a team record. The game prior Lin scored scored 31 points in Houston’s double overtime win. In that game he shot 10-17 from the field, 3-6 from three point range, and 8-9 from the foul line. Lin also iced the game at the end of the second quarter by making a floater to lift the lead to 4 points with 34 seconds to play. Lin continues to struggle with turnovers, but in his past two games, he still posted 12 assists in the loss to Philly.
The Knicks didn’t match Lin’s contract and simply surrendered a prize asset for nothing. With the new CBA, this made no sense as Lin was young and offered a great fan and marketing dynamic. So now we have Chris Smith on our bench as a 4th point guard. How many teams in the NBA carry four point guards? If we count Toure Murry, that is five point guards on one roster. We only needed one Jeremy Lin.
James Dolan and Mike Woodson need to look no further than in the mirror as Houston has two point guards better than any of the Knicks. The NBA is a point guard driven league and ours just haven’t measured up thus far.
The Knicks play the Rockets Wednesday and Lin and Felton will once again play against each other. Hopefully on this night, Felton will look like the better choice.
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a # 1 bestselling author www.5minutemotivator.com
Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan