Jeremy Lin: Serenity Now
First and foremost I’d like to state that I am not a Jeremy Lin fan. I hated the whole Linsanity era. I hated the attention it received, the fanfare it generated and the “all of a sudden” NBA experts it gave birth to. I don’t hate Jeremy Lin the person or the Jeremy Lin story, despite it being more suited to a Disney movie than a pro basketball arena. What I hated were the Lin memes, the “is this real life?” posts suffocating my Twitter and Facebook feeds and the flood of corny puns which comes with pop culture’s Internet flavour of the month. The NBA was finally back on the world’s radar again, only for all the wrong reasons, for predominantly non-basketball related reasons. With Lin’s free agency looming the same level of attention has come flooding back, only this time it’s stayed within the confines of NBA circles. The conversation switched from “when will the Linsanity run end!” to “can this dude actually play ball?”.
I’m not going to continue to back track on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon, it’s been done to death to the point that even casual fans can recite it back to front. I’m not writing this because I care about Jeremy Lin the basketball player or the future longevity of the “Linsanity” brand. I’m writing this because I’m sick of reading opinions that range from the ill-informed (Lin sucks) to down right backwards (anything ESPN’s Stephen A Smith says).
As far as I can tell there are two opinions regarding the current Lin fiasco: That Knicks owner James Dolan is a selfish egomaniac; and that Jeremy Lin is at fault for scr*wing the Knicks in favour of the almighty dollar. The first opinion is hard to argue against given Dolan’s history, the second opinion is merely a convenient cop-out, and a lazy one at that.
Here are the facts:
Jeremy Lin can play basketball. Sure we only have a 30 game sample size to deal with, but who cares? Well apparently everyone, so I’ll break it down for you.
- Of Jeremy Lin’s 35 games with the New York Knicks 25 were as a starter.
- Of those 35 games nearly 60% were on the road (20) and almost half (45%) were against playoff teams.
- You want the kid to prove himself in a short period of time, that’s as good a baptism of fire as there is.
- In those 35 games, Jeremy Lin played against teams with a losing record on 18 occasions and against teams with a winning record on 17 occasions. I’ll post his numbers so we can all compare how much Lin sucked when the going got tough.
|Category||Vs .500+ Teams||Vs sub .500 teams||As A Starter (25 games)|
|Points Per Game||15.7||13.9||18.2|
Outside of a drop in field goal percentage and a small decrease in assists, Lin’s production remained consistent (or at least impressive) regardless of the competition. This becomes even more impressive given Lin learnt the Knicks system on the fly and his previous career high in minutes with the Golden State Warriors was 23 (albeit the last game of the 2011 season).
The kid can play…
Does Lin’s defense need work? No question. Lin struggled big time against elite guards. Boston poing guard Rajon Rondo dumped a 18-17-20 smackdown on him, Deron Williams chimed in with a 38-4-6 and Derrick Rose an effortless 32-6-7, but this is against the best of the best. Considering Lin is virtually a rookie, getting beat up against the league’s elite (like everybody else) isn’t as grim in reality as it is on paper.
Statistically, Jeremy Lin was the most improved player in the NBA last year registering an efficiency differential of +10.6. With a humble attitude, positive work ethic and overall smarts I’d have faith in Lin focusing on his lackluster defense and further developing his overall game. He’s been in the league for five minutes, why is everybody so sold on Lin going backwards? I don’t know what’s more concerning, the amount of people stating that Jeremy Lin sucks or that I just spent 500 words defending Jeremy Lin.
Now to the all important contract facts. The ins and outs of the CBA is already confusing enough as it is, so I’m just going to knock these out in point form so they’re easier to digest;
- The only way the Knicks could offer Lin a contract in the ballpark of his market value was to allow Lin to engage another team in free agency and then match that offer. Lin had no choice in this matter. None. Not without a competitive bid from another team first (unless he wants to keep sleeping on couches).
- For those who think that Lin owed the Knicks and should have settled for a deal that would have paid him significantly less (we’re talking double-digit millions), please feel free to re-join us from 1978 and leave your agenda at the door next time. We’re talking about a guy who has barely made a million dollars, church change by NBA standards and insulting given his production.
- Lin wasn’t being greedy for engaging in the free agency process, it’s called “following the rules”. If you want to get mad write a letter to David Stern cr*pping all over the laws of the CBA, or lower Lin’s ratings on 2k12 to zero. Either way I don’t care, the fact remains, this was the only path to take.
- Lin had to play ball with any team that showed interest. What this means is that Lin couldn’t take a dump all over the negotiating team in order to stay with the Knicks. It’s a little something known as conducting business, and once underway basic protocol assumes that there’s a chance Lin might actually have to play for the interested party in the future.
- Lin cannot talk with the Knicks at any point about any contract details as there’s a little hurdle involved known as “It’s fucking illegal”.
- Lin wanted the Knicks to match but those words don’t mean a single thing as Lin doesn’t hold that decision-making power. If you think Lin was playing funny buggers at this point and trying to force the Knicks hand, you aren’t living on Planet reality.
- The Houston Rockets offered whatever they felt was sufficient in order to gain Lin’s services. If you think the Rockets would go out of their way to “screw the Knicks”, who cares? Good on them. Whether you like it or not it has absolutely nothing to do with Jeremy Lin. The Rockets made a bid based on their perceived worth of Jeremy Lin’s services, ruling out the “rumor” that it was Lin himself who forced the Rockets to up their original offer.
- Even if the Rockets did increase their original offer on their own accord, there is no law stating that they cannot. If anything, it’s nothing more than a re-evaluated business decision, one that Jeremy Lin or his agent is not responsible for.
- The Knicks front office and coach Woodson handed Lin a nice shiny bike and told him to head out and find an offer, not the other way around, all the while stating that they would “match any price”. This was one of many stupid moves, which I have no doubt encouraged the Rockets to up their original offer.
- Under the CBA structure, Lin was forced to sign the Rockets offer. Only one team made Jeremy Lin an offer. He was bound hand and foot, thus leaving it up to the Knicks to respond.
Jeremy Lin didn’t betray anyone in this process. Lin simply followed the same process as a thousand NBA free agents before him.
Only the New York Knicks could turn something so simple into such an unwarranted mess.
In order for Jeremy Lin to stay “loyal” as many claim he should, Lin would have had to forgo signing the Houston Rockets offer sheet and allowed the Knicks to offer whatever contract they wanted. Such a move would not only be foolish, it would make Jeremy Lin the dumbest person in the history of professional sports.
Fortunately for Lin that title will remain with James Dolan and his New York Knicks.
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @Scottywashere