The Sixth Man: 'Lindigestion' in New York
By John McMullen, NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Just over five months ago New York Knicks fans saw Jeremy Lin trot onto the floor at Madison Square Garden and probably thought it couldn't get any worse.
Late Tuesday many of the same people were lamenting the fact that the Knicks failed to match Lin's three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, letting the most popular player in franchise history since Patrick Ewing walk away for nothing.
Of course, it took Ewing 15 years to build up that kind of goodwill in Gotham. It took Lin 25 games and you can make a strong argument it was really only the first six.
Back on Feb. 4 Lin outplayed one of the NBA's best, Deron Williams, and Linsanity was born.
The cover of Sports Illustrated and Time in Asia soon followed with the Knicks quickly cashing in, moving replicas of Lin's No. 17 jersey as soon as they could be made.
According to USA Today, sales for the team's online store increased more than 3,000 percent during the height of Linsanity.
NBA figures show Lin had the best selling jersey in the league during both February and March and for the one-year period ending in April of 2012, he had the second highest selling jersey, outpacing heavyweights like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and finishing behind only Derrick Rose. Meanwhile, New York's high-priced stars -- Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler were relegated to the clearance rack.
In hindsight Lin's coming out party under the point guard-friendly Mike D'Antoni can best be described as historic.
That said, as good as Lin was in his first six games as a Knick, he was just as pedestrian for the next 19, averaging 13 points and five assists while shooting right around 40 percent once Mike Woodson took over the reins of the team from D'Antoni.
Lin started 6-0 and finished 9-10 as New York's starting point guard before finally going down with a season-ending knee injury and speeding toward restricted free agency.
The Knicks were appalled that a guy who went undrafted out of Harvard and was cut by Golden State and Houston let his agent Roger Montgomery shop around for the best deal, a somewhat hypocritical stance to take considering the fact that James Dolan paid $600,000 to a guy who made his organization tens of millions in a few months.
Lin, whose professional basketball resume includes stops in Reno, Erie and Dongguan, China, played mercenary and had every right to do so. In fact, it was almost a necessity since it's far from a guarantee the California native will ever be in this position again.
Many personnel people around the NBA, who missed the boat on Lin originally, have been trying to poke holes in his game. Heck, many in the Knicks' own organization have serious doubts about Lin's ceiling as a player with some chalking about his success to a lockout-truncated season short on practice time which rendered coaches unable to implement ways to stop him.
His supporters claim that kind of talk is just bitterness coming from people who make their living judging basketball talent and somehow missed a player who showed the ability to dominate when given a chance.
Like most things the truth probably lies in the middle.
Lin isn't Pete Maravich, so the numbers were going to settle down at some point. The jumper certainly isn't reminiscent of Dell Curry and his lateral movement isn't exactly Tony Allen-esqe but he has shown the innate ability to get to the glass and there aren't many people on this planet who could put up 38 points and seven assists against a Bryant-led Lakers team.
On the other hand, even when things were clicking on all cylinders Lin was a turnover machine and a poor on-ball defender.
The empirical evidence shows that at $19 million Lin was going to be the Knicks starting point guard but at $25 million, he was given his freedom to land in South Texas.
Since New York isn't exactly known as a penny-pinching team, that tells me the extra ducats were an opportunity for Lin's detractors in the organization to gain a foothold with Dolan.
Woodson, who feels more comfortable with the pedigreed Raymond Felton, was certainly near the front of that line and possibly leading the charge.
At the end of the day, as in any personnel matter, history will be the ultimate judge but my guess is New York probably made a prudent personnel decision for the strangest of reasons -- spite.
07/18 11:05:33 ET