Dec. 17, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks to pass around New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Missed Point Guards Led to Missing the Playoffs

You know you are a true New York Knicks fan when you read the news that Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson had dinner together.  They had a two hour dinner together the other night to discuss the present and the future of the Knicks and Anthony.  Now with CAA no longer in control, Anthony wants to be loved and recruited and know he will have input. 

The fact is, that Anthony hadhis input over the last two years, working directly with Mike Woodson and CAA.  CAA and Anthony called the shots — who stayed, who went. Many of the Knicks’ problems began with Linsanity.  Carmelo was then new to New York, New York was not winning and wondered if they made the right deal for Anthony.  Then, out of desperation Mike D’Antonni  played an Asian point guard that nobody wanted, Jeremy Lin.

Two years ago, Lin ignited the Madison Square Garden after helping the then struggling Knicks to a series of wins and the playoffs despite playing without injured stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. It was a thing of beauty.  I think all of New York loved it with the exceptions of Anthony and Woodson.

I remember after the season meeting with Coach Woodson, although no specific quote was given to me, I could tell Lin was not in the Knicks future. Like Woodson stated about any player he did not like, he was looking for a more defensive presence.  This from a team, a coach that were practically last in the league in defense.  Now, if you listen to the Knicks, they stated they allowed Lin to leave because of money.  However, the first move they made in the off season was to go after Steve Nash.  When that failed, they signed Jason Kidd and then Raymond Felton.  Lin, was never in the Knicks’ plans.  Yet Wednesday night with Houston’s season on the ropes, who do you think led the Rockets to victory?  Yes, the same Jeremy Lin, with 21 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Linsanity was alive and healthy last night in Houston.

Last night, Lin took the ball and practically turned back the clock to those crazy nights when he became a worldwide phenomenon at Madison Square Garden. He zigged when the Blazers’ defense zagged. He found the cracks that let him get into the lane and all the way to the basket. He found the openings and the nerve to pull up and stab in long jumpers just when the Rockets seemed ready to topple again.

“He had these two big 3-pointers at the end of possessions as the shot clock was ending,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “Those were big momentum plays for them and they took a little bit out of us.”

“I felt like I needed to be more of a spark tonight,” Lin said. “I haven’t done a great job of that this series. After the last game, I was really upset and I just believed and focused,” he said.

That changed in Game 5 when the Blazers’ Wes Matthews said that Lin was a deciding factor in the game.

“It seemed like Jeremy Lin hit big shot after big shot,” said Matthews said. “He was attacking the rim, hitting shots. We have to do a better job defensively on him.”

Apr 16, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) drives to the basket during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Now in Toronto, another point guard the Knickscould have had lit up Brooklyn for 36 points. Kyle Lowry made shot after shot down the stretch and carried Toronto on his back.  It seemed whenever a shot was needed, he made it.  His heart, his grit carried Toronto on his back. Here is a point guard the Knicks could have used, this year he averaged, 17.6 points, 7.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.  Lowry was the playmaker the Knicks didn’t trade for during this season when Garden chairman James Dolan refused to part with a future first-round pick. He’s a free agent this summer; however, now because of his great play, Toronto will probably keep him. Here was a player the Knicks could have stolen.

Lowry and Lin are both upgrades over Felton and could have led the Knicks to the playoffs this season.  Now you throw into the mix Beno Udrih, who off the bench had 14 and 11 point respectively and has played well off the bench for Memphis and you have to wonder why Woodson, Dolan, CAA or Anthony didn’t get the point.   Yes, I know Anthony and Felton are friends.  After Anthony scored 61 points, it was Felton who picked up the check at the bowling party.  The Batman in Anthony loved the Robin in Felton.  However, after watching two superior point guards make shot after shot at crunch time, who willed their prospective teams to wins without complaining to refs, making faces, throwing their hands up in the air and being lost on defense visa vie Felton.

CAA had the influence to get the Lowry deal done.  Anthony could have gone to Dolan if he so wanted.   It appears CAA and Anthony simply wanted Robin to keep feeding Anthony.  Facts be told Anthony hated Linsanity, he wanted to be the man in New York, he wanted all the publicity.  Well now he has it , but for all the wrong reasons. This year he was never 100% committed to the Knicks, he played this year for himself.  It was the stubbornness of Woodson or the pressure from CAA that prevented him from benching Felton and starting Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih or Tourie Murry.  Woodson just didn’t get the point all season.  Anthony was never all in this season, he worked to pad his numbers and did his best Dwight Howard impersonation.  As I look at teams like Toronto, Memphis, Atlanta, none of those teams have a superstar the likes of Anthony, yet do to coaching, defense and teamwork  they are all thriving in the postseason.

As I watched Toronto beat Brooklyn last night and than Houston beat Portland, I wondered what could have been.  Lin would have been an asset, an improvement, but Lowry would have led the Knicks to the Eastern Finals.  Both point guards are winners, game changers, not scared to make the big play, the big shot at the end of the game.  Its time for coaches to stop measuring point guards by their height alone, but the size of their heart.  Lin and Lowry have heart, they are winners.  Phil Jackson will hopefully read this and get the point, literally, or we are in for another long season.

Dr Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling author

Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan

Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Jeremy Lin Kyle Lowry New York Knicks Raymond Felton

  • Pension Analyst

    I agree that the knicks could have used point guards, but your Lin scenario makes no sense. First, the Knicks made an offer for Lin. Then Houston outbid with an extra year. I believe the Knicks would be paying Lin over $8MM per year. It was just a bad business deal. Felton and JR Smith combined cost around the LIn fee. LAst year the Knicks got their money’s worth. This year, the pair underperformed.

    I agree on Lowry , and it would’ve been a good deal.

    UDrih did look good, and we should find out why he didn’t work out for Knicks.
    Andre Miller is underrated, and the Knicks should’ve made an effort to get him when he was available.

    But then we wouldn’t have seen THJ that much .

    Also, Knicks collapsed at end of some games at end of season. Hard to believe that MWP couldn’t have provided a needed defensive stop or rebound.

    The biggest tragedy is that we didn’t negotiate that the draft pick would return to us in 2014 if it was a lottery pick. Since that would have been so UNLIKELY , it might’ve been a bargain.
    Knicks will be back in contention soon enough, with or without Melo. ( personally I hope it is WITH).

    • Danny

      how are there still idiots that dont know what happened? Knicks never made an offer you dumb fool. If they had, Lin wouldve returned.

      • Pension Analyst

        Sadly you choose to hurl insults instead of have a discussion. Regardless, Houston’s offer was just a little too rich. I ( as an Ivy leaguer and Knicks fan) would’ve LOVED having Lin stay in NY, and I will ALWAYS appreciate LINSANITY, but the Houston Contract was too good a deal for him to pass up. If Houston hadn’t gotten Harden and maybe with some better back court coaching , Lin could’ve progressed even more. By the time his next contract season rolls around, he may end up someplace where there is a strong fit for him and we can see what he can really do.

    • Tim Yeung

      The Knicks never gave Lin any contract whatsoever, you know the guy who just saved their BB season. Instead they gave their other restricted free agent Steve Novak a 4 year 15 million dollar contract, and told Lin to go out there and find his value. They also stated publically that they would match any offer, in hopes that no team would waste their time to make Lin an offer, so he would come crawling back to the Knicks for any low salary. Business is business, but why play hardball against the guy who just saved your BB season??

      • Pension Analyst

        As an Ivy Leaguer and Knicks Fan, I LOVED LINSANITY and hope Lin becomes and All-Star!. He just a Great offer from Houston. Steve Kovak at 4MM is a better deal than the 25MM ? Lin contract. Kaplan misses the point and totally discounts that Chandler injury, Martin Injury, Barg,JR lack of Prep and Felton underachievement , with some bad coaching adjustment and just some bad playing by Knicks ( games they could’ve won, and bonehead plays) cost the Knicks the 4- 6 victories that would’ve put them into playoffs. My other comments on Udrih, Miller etc. stand on their own.

      • Pension Analyst

        Thanks for link to article. LINSANITY was great, but the Knicks won the Atlantic Division without him, before imploding this year. $25MM for 3 years was too much, and maybe even 25MM for 4 years might’ve been too much, given what they were able to do last year. Lin might’ve made a difference this year , but then they would still have him on the books. If Felton repeated his performance from last year, and if JR played all season like he did at the end, We probably wouldn’t be having this discussion. .. Kaplan is just wrong in his assessment, but he was able to be provocative.
        Knicks have a newer front office now, and maybe they will make better deals. If locker room politics hurt LIN, that’s regrettable. I also agree with you that “playing hardball” with him was probably not the best way to go. Ironically, given Felton and JR performance this year, ( and also Felton’s off court problems) matching Houston’s offer may have been a better deal for this year and next year.

        • Tim Yeung

          That’s the thing. The Knicks had the initial option to offer Lin the exact same deal they gave to their other restricted free agent Steve Novak (4 year 15 million) and Lin would have probably taken it (Lin even said he had wanted to return to the Knicks). Instead the Knicks played hardball against Lin and told him to go “find his value”, expecting he would get no offers and they could pay him even less should he return. The Knicks never made any offer to Lin whatsoever. If you read that ESPN article, you would understand that Melo didn’t want to share the spotlight with Lin. Lin had no choice in what happened afterwards. He did exactly what the Knicks had asked him to do and found his value (the Knicks basically lied when they said they would match any offer) and in the end Lin’s choice was either to sign the ONLY contract in front of him (from the Rockets) or leave the NBA.

  • Intrep1d

    Linsanity was magical; a true Pax Moderna. It was exciting, uplifting, and basically everything that sports was meant to be. For a brief moment, New York felt like the Mecca of basketball once again. I don’t think anyone ever truly forgot what Lin did, even though we’re now 2 years removed.

    However, the realities of the NBA and the maladaptive idiosyncrasies of this Knicks Franchise all came to the forefront to end it. Until there’s a complete changing of the guard, we can expect more of the same mediocrity. Phil Jackson is a good start, but even then nothing’s certain.

    • Pension Analyst

      LINSANITY was great , and its a shame we didn’t get to see Act II. I think the Houston contract was just a little too much for the Knicks to match. Look for LIn to end up with the Lakers if he stays healthy and then we will see more LINSANITY!!

  • dejancriz

    Its total mess Woody, Carmelo and this Felton did to NYK! I wish Phil could reverse this Melo phenomenon.

  • philip

    i did not realize that felton and anthony were such good friends… i couldnt figure out why they had such a mediocre point guard starting every game when they have a potential allstar defender and serviceable point guard (give him time and he can be more) in toure murry… the boy could play defense and feed the ball… his shot and foul shots need to improve, but he can ball… i just hope dolan will let jackson do his thing, cut and bench the necessary players (felton) in order to succeed… I swear on my life if i see felton starting at PG i will lose my mind.