Nov 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) brings the ball up the court during the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Lin: Linsanity Alive and Well in Houston

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?”

Dec. 17, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) goes up for a shot as New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) defends during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

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

Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan

Tags: Houston Rockets Jeremy Lin Mike Woodson New York Knicks Raymond Felton

  • Jason

    My prediction is that tonight turns into Melo v. Harden

    Both of them are egotistical, and both are tired of seeing Lin’s name in all the headlines. Harden was dealing with a legit bruised foot, but he likely could have played in Philly. Instead, he chose to rest it, knowing full well that tonight would be a nationally televised game in the Mecca of basketball. He’ll have all the rest he needs and I won’t be surprised when he puts his patented ISO game to work.

    Lin, on the other hand, will play a quiet game and the media will point to the fact that this is still Harden’s team, and that Lin will always be a supporting role. I don’t think Lin will have any problem with this, and it will be how he bounces back from a relatively poor showing in NY that will determine how the rest of the season goes for him.

    • Robert Han

      While I agree with you that Lin will probably have a quiet O game, but for entirely different reasons.

      1. Lin’s played way too many minutes last night, 49! And that was first leg of back to back.

      2. Lin’s vowed to play better D tonight, and that’ll affect his O.

      • Jason

        looks like we were both right in some ways and wrong in others

        however, as to your first point, you do realize the knicks also played back to back right?

        • Robert Han

          Ummm yeah, but the Knicks were never the topic of discussion; Lin’s offensive output was.

          • Jason

            You pointed out that Rox were on a back to back because you were obviously trying to point out that Lin would be at a disadvantage since he’d be tired

            I’m pointing out that the Knicks also have the same disadvantage, albeit on the defensive end. Just as Lin would be tired going at it on offense, the Knicks would in theory also be tired defending him

          • Robert Han

            But were the Knicks collectively remotely on par with Lin’s effort of 34 points, 12 assists, 8 turnovers, flying all over the floor, affecting every single play for a lung-bursting and legs-killin’ 49 minutes?

            It’s getting pointless, I win, end of discussion. Good night and sweet dreams Jason.

          • Jason

            lol, I tried to be civil with you but I think I need to put you down right now

            first things first, I’m a big Lin fan, but I am also a true basketball fan. Unlike you, I do not go around annoying other true basketball fans and turning people away from liking Lin due to your blind obsession

            case in point, do NOT go around making excuses like this for Lin when it’s so clear that the other team has the exact same excuse. For what it’s worth, these are professional athletes, so even though Lin and lots of his teammates played a ton of minutes in the past few games, they are still more than capable of performing on this stage in spite of fatigue

            lastly, you do understand that your “apples and oranges” argument cuts both ways right? You realize that defense can be seen as a team effort and that a back to back has an overall larger effect on an entire team than it does on just one player (this is just basic mathematics)…right?

            look, I love me some Lin and I’ve been preaching his sky high potential ever since the dude was in Palo Alto. Fans like you are simply turning away any rational true bball fan from Lin since you are always trying to make stupid excuses for the dude

            Understand the difference b/w a legit excuse (e.g. ball dominant player in Harden taking away touches) and an illegitimate excuse (e.g. Lin is really, really tired). Even if the latter is true, nobody, and I repeat NOBODY, gets this excuse in the NBA. That’s just a fact that you’d be aware of if you were an actual bball fan

            edit: Also, nice try in deflecting attention away from the fact that you were plain WRONG when you replied to my post by saying that the knicks were never the subject of the post. Clearly you now understand the meaning behind my post and realized you were wrong, but you never apologized for being dumb!

          • Robert


          • Jason


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  • Joe Merola

    This was a pretty lazy column. Most NYK fans loved Lin, his energy, his enthusiasm, his story, yada yada yada, but there are plenty of very valid reasons the Knicks passed on re-signing him. None of which you acknowledged. Please don’t cite a couple of (great) performances from Lin and try to pass them off as his baseline, and don’t bring Marcus Camby into the conversation. Comparing point guards and centers just doesn’t make sense, knowing that each is brought on to a team to play very different roles. Instead, let’s have a fair, objective conversation about the merits of signing Lin versus letting him walk two offseasons ago.

    Lin needs the ball in his hands. That doesn’t mesh well with the high-volume superstar that the Knicks had already committed to, Carmelo Anthony. Lin’s also not particularly careful with the ball; his struggles with turnovers are well known. The Knicks were looking for more of a facilitator than a high-risk, high-reward play-maker to run the point.

    With a different approach at PG last year, the Knicks led the league in fewest turnovers and won 54 games by cashing in on those extra possessions. Old as they were, the combination of Kidd, Felton and Prigioni was a major catalyst throughout the whole season. Not to mention, the three-point shooting clearly didn’t suffer at all in Lin’s absence: the Knicks attempted and made the most three-pointers in NBA history last year.

    Finally, god forbid the Knicks actually attempt to be financially responsible with their contracts, for the first time ever! With the team already committed to certain player(s), paying that much for Lin, especially with the poison-pill price for the last season in the three-year contract, would just not be a financially responsible move. There’s a valid counter-argument by saying “The Knicks are NEVER financially responsible. Why start with their most popular player in a decade?”, but I say better late than never.

    All in all, Linsanity was awesome. Best three weeks of my Knicks fandom. And Lin is a very, very good player who I wish nothing but success. But, he was simply not right for this team. One could argue that if the Knicks ditched Anthony and adopted a more TEAM-oriented approach with Lin at the helm, they would be more successful. This is perhaps true, but not a real possibility. For now, go Felton, and whenever Lin is not playing the Knicks, I will root hard for him. No regrets about not re-signing him though.

    • setrue

      LOL, “No regrets not re signing him.” The Knicks currently are 21 wins, 36 losses. Fat Felton is arrested for felony gun possession charges. Dumb Dolan should have offered Jeremy Lin a contract. Lin NEVER embarrassed the Knicks and always provided kids a great role model. How’s is your bargain bin pg Fat Felton doing? Oh, producing nothing on the court and racking up felony charges off the court. Sweet justice as allows Lin is part of a winning team and Knicks fans left watching horrible basketball.