They Stopped the Linsanity

Jul 17

How I learned to stop worrying and leave the Knicks

My Knicks fandom ended when they declined to match the Lin offer sheet.

There comes a point where it becomes impossible to ignore just how little the owner cares about anything but his own petty, paranoid vendettas and protecting his people, and how inevitable it is that he’ll ruin anything remotely fun or likable about this team.

Look, I recognize that a 25-game sample is nothing. It could be that without the D’Antoni offense, without an expert PNR finisher like Tyson Chandler, and with defenses geared up to stop him night after night, Lin will underwhelm in Houston, and that contract will look, as Melo so charmingly put it, ridiculous.

But I don’t care. And that goes beyond any emotions stemming from the joy that Linsanity gave me — the first pure, unequivocal, unapologetic joy I’ve gotten from this stupid, myopic, arrogant franchise since Ewing was traded. As a business decision, as a marketing decision and as a basketball decision, this was an epic fail.

There are essentially three scenarios that could have come to pass had the Knicks signed the Lin contract:

1)He turns back into a pumpkin, isn’t even useful as instant offense off the bench, and whatever marketing gains the team got during Linsanity disappear once he turns into a novelty player. And if that’s the case, the team uses the stretch option in the CBA so that the luxury tax hit isn’t nearly as egregious. They can survive this option. I would also consider this by far the least likely option. He showed too many skills during that stretch to turn out to be a useless NBA player.

2)He turns out to be a competent NBA point guard but not a star. In this scenario, he’s probably still worth money from marketing and attendance, and/or the team would have the ability to trade him elsewhere before the poison pill season kicks in. Some team with an Asian fanbase would trade the Knicks valuable assets for this guy if he’s even vaguely decent.

3)Linsanity is real, and the Knicks just let a 23-year-old stud, who fills by far their biggest weakness, who essentially fell out of the sky for them and turned into a license to print money, walk away for NOTHING. 

Dumb, dumb, dumb. There is no defending this move. At all. The Knicks are capped out through the end of this contract no matter what. He costs them zero flexibility under the salary cap, and he is essentially the last significant piece they can add to this old man roster for the next three seasons.

And because the Knicks have traded most of their draft picks for the next several years to assemble this very old team, the only players on it with any upside whatsoever were going to be Iman Shumpert (coming off a knee injury that may steal some of the quickness that made him such a good defender) and Lin. The team as constructed, with Felton and DWI Kidd as the point guards, will be a good team. It will make the playoffs easily, maybe even be in the top half of the bracket. But it will not win a title. The pieces don’t entirely fit together, and most of the players are who they are. If Linsanity was a mirage, then they’re screwed anyway. But if it wasn’t? Then the Knicks gave away their best shot at legitimately competing with Miami, Chicago, OKC, et al, and THEY DIDN’T EVEN GET ANYTHING BACK.

Who does this? Who doesn’t at least match the offer sheet and find a trade partner in December who will give the Knicks some kind of useful asset for one of the most popular players in the NBA?

James Dolan does it. That’s who.

This is entirely about Dolan being offended that Lin and/or the Rockets renegotiated the offer sheet. That’s it. So Dolan can forgive all the HORRIBLE things Isiah did to both the team itself and the image of the Knicks and MSG, but THIS he cannot forgive? THIS makes him cut off his nose to spite all our faces?

I’m out. Period. It’s battered spouse time, and I need a healthier relationship.