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BBNews: Why New York Pulled the Plug on Linsanity

The NBA is full of surprises. Last season, Brandon Roy announced his retirement from the game due to health concerns. Chris Paul was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster deal – then dealt again to the Los Angeles Clippers after David Stern nixed the trade. In February, Jeremy Lin, an undrafted Asian American out of Harvard who was waived by two teams, set the basketball world ablaze as a New York Knick.

Win after win, record after record, Linsanity was born. The greatest cinderella story in sports appeared before everyone’s eyes but after three frenzied weeks, Linsanity was put on hold temporarily when Lin suffered a knee injury. Today, the New York Knicks, the team that let Linsanity become alive pulled the plug – permanently. The Knicks’ decision to let Jeremy Lin fly off to Houston is a surprise that definitely tops any of the aforementioned shockers from last season.

Madison Square Garden saw it’s market cap grow by $600 million since Linsanity began (Business Insider). The Madison Square Garden stock price soared to record highs. Lin merchandise flew off shelves. Demand for a piece of the NBA’s sweetheart was overwhelming. The Knicks brand had never been more global. But like all good things, Linsanity must end. The Knicks and Jeremy Lin will separate, arguably by way of the most unlikely divorce in sports history. The reason? Money? Not exactly.

Jeremy Lin will return to the Rockets, the first team that claimed him off waivers last year.

Let’s get this straight first. Jeremy Lin had every right to negotiate with the Houston Rockets even if Lin wanted to stay with the Knicks from the beginning. As a restricted free agent, this is the only way he could raise his market price. What Lin did is common and acceptable – and expected. The Knicks were reported to match any offer up to a billion dollars. Of course this statement is an exaggeration, but the message is clear that the Knicks wanted Linsanity to continue in New York whatever price. Sure, money is a big issue, but the Knicks make money. The same cannot be said for a majority of teams in the NBA. Backed by owner James Dolan, the Knicks can cope with a large contract and pay the luxury tax and other penalties without much worry.

Before July 11th, when the moratorium ended, the Houston Rockets and Jeremy Lin unofficially agreed to a contract that would pay him $19.5 million over three years with the final year at $9.3 million. This type of deal is now dubbed a “poison pill” contract because of the price jump at the end that is intended to make teams like the Knicks balk at resigning restricted free agents. The Knicks saw this coming, but they didn’t expect an official offer in the slightest way greater than the original. After July 11th, Lin officially signed an offer sheet from the Rockets. The new offer ballooned to $25.1 million over three years with the final year at $14.9 million. The new contract would cost the Knicks much more than $25.1 million. Depending on future roster moves, the Knicks could be forced to pay over an additional $30 million in luxury tax and other penalties just to keep him.

James Dolan is willing to spend, but he is not one to be ticked off. Lin has done just that. By increasing the original offer, Lin failed to show respect and gratefulness to the Knicks’ organization after New York had been the only team to let Lin shine. Dolan must have believed that Lin heard rumors that the Knicks would match any offer and then later worked on a richer deal with the Rockets. In Dolan’s eyes, Lin toyed with him and the franchise, an act that wouldn’t fly with him.

With the suspense finally over, it should be clear that Dolan and the Knicks let Jeremy Lin go not because of money, but because of something more important, the lack of respect, appreciation, and loyalty.

  1. whatch out for the east coast series, there may be a Linn -ching, or a nasty hard foul paid for Spike.

  2. It was obvious that Lin didn’t want to return as a Knick when he signed that offer with the Rockets. I wonder how his career would turn out now that he is on a team that is rebuilding, compared to a team that is a playoff contender.

    Oh well, to each his own. Good luck to Lin on his choice of playing for the Rockets!

    1. Well as i mentioned in the post, Lin did want to return as a Knick. Negotiating with the Rockets didn’t mean Lin had a change of heart.

      1. I don’t mean to argue, but signing a “loaded” deal that would be difficult to match is something that would make one think otherwise.

  3. Couldnt the knicks simply have offered him something decent b4 he even tested the waters so to speak? This means they could have created/structured what they wanted to their liking. Instead, they let him go out and learn what someone else might give him. Dumb decisions made all around but the actual decision makers and “professionals” in NY seemed to drop the ball on this one. Who in their right mind knows they could make large amounts doing what you love at a lower taxed rate in Texas and doesn’t even consider signing?

    1. The Knicks would have loved to do what you just said, have Lin all to themselves. But like I said, this was the business move Lin had to make in order to increase his market price. Had he not negotiated with another team, the Knicks could have offered him a lot less money and then Lin wouldn’t have any leverage so to speak to get more. Yes, the initial issue was money. But in the end, the issue was something greater and that is the lack of respect and appreciation for the Knicks.

      1. I think that you misunderstand me. I understand the end result and how Lin and his people could have probably requested something be done differently on the part of Houston but my point is, NY let him go out there to begin with. They wanted to see what would happen. Why? Why not just sign the dude for something you can afford knowing that he will definitely bring in money rather than let him even go out there? I admit that I don’t know all of the Ins-and-Outs but I am genuinely asking these questions. Not to mention, someone from NY was out there as saying they would match anything so when you hear that, do you really contemplate how your money is getting to you in terms of structure?

  4. Loyalty?? You must be joking. The Knicks did give Lin the opportunity but this was a business move which you admitted he had every right to explore (and he did the best he could which is what his agent is suppose to do). But now you say he needed to take less to show loyalty?? As you also mentioned Jeremy Lin paid back the Knicks already by drawing interest globally and making them 300 mil (don’t know where you got the figure but that’s a lot of money – a lot more than 30 million luxury tax).
    Come on dude. Loyalty? I would rethink that stance and stick with the business side of things.
    James Dolan didn’t believe Jeremy Lin would be worth 30 mil in luxury tax. That’s fine. Kudos to him. I hope Raymond Felton and J Kidd pans out b/c I’m a knicks fan. But don’t talk about loyalty in sports and how someone owes someone anything. I repeat, it’s a business.
    But good talk.
    God bless and have a good day.

    1. Jeremy didn’t have to TAKE LESS to show loyalty. He actually GOT MORE. The right move should have been KEEPING THE SAME offer. After July 11th, Lin’s offer sheet was one of the few that was different from the offers that were unofficial before July 11th. If you look at like Landry Fields’ unofficial contract or Deron William’s unofficial contract, you would see that each stayed the same when the official contract was finalized.

      The $300 million number isn’t an exact number, but it is around there. $300 million isn’t revenue from Lin alone. Lin contributed to that number. He helped bring a lot of revenue to MSG.

    2. I replaced the $300 million note with something even better and something I can entirely back up with a credible source.

      “Madison Square Garden saw it’s market cap grow by $600 million since Linsanity began”.

  5. who doesn’t want more money??
    If Lin wants more money and still plays in big city with some all-stars,
    certainly it is a “NO” from the NY management.

  6. How come this is JLin’s fault to accept the best and ONLY offer he can get since Knicks refused to give him one beforehand and asked him to test the market and see how much he is worth so they will match it? JLin just did what they told him to do and now see what happened.

  7. Loyalty doesn’t cut it anymore (see Ray Allen). Its a combination of money, team structure and championship rings.

    I see it as Lin getting paid for all the hard work he put in and if the Rockets are willing to pay, why not go for it!!!

  8. Who cares. The Knicks are NOT a championship contender/caliber team.
    They are at best, a 2nd round contender. And even if, a team like Indiana or even Atlanta could beat them. Knicks had no leverage at all in this situation, because quite frankly they are a team of broken/lost players with a lone Tyson Chandler trying to help their sorry asses.

    And loyalty? Please. The Knicks didnt give Lin a chance. Injuries gave him a chance. And the Knicks picked up Lin as a financial move. It was simple, if Lin succeeds the franchise profits. Lin fails, the Asian American community would still flock to MSG.

    This contract isnt “ridicilous”. Blake Griffin’s close to 20 milion annual is Outrageous for a minimally sklled NBA player.

    1. “And loyalty? Please. The Knicks didnt give Lin a chance. Injuries gave him a chance. And the Knicks picked up Lin as a financial move. It was simple, if Lin succeeds the franchise profits. Lin fails, the Asian American community would still flock to MSG.”

      best statement i have read here as of now.

      knicks mgnt brought this situation on their own. sure they gave lin the opportunity but the contract issues are knicks fault. their fault since the start of the 2010 2011 season when it was the best season to manage their assets a lot better.

  9. Rookie, do you know what you are talking about?
    Lin lack of respect and loyalty?
    As far as I know, I went to school long enough to know that 25.1 millions for 3 years is much more than 19.5 millions for 3 years. Why wouldn’t anyone choose to get pay more? Would you say that you would reject a job offer of 25$/hr from a competitor and stay at the same job for 19.5$/hr because you are loyal and respect your current employer? I might be wrong but these are just elementary calculation.

    1. Rookie knows what he is talking about. He was explaining the situation… Dolan even said he feels betrayed. On a business level, Lin made the right move hands down. What is being explained in the write up is the situation not person opinions. It is actually a fact that Dolan let Lin go bc he felt betrayed… period, end of discussion. Now, how YOU FEEL about it is how most of us feel about it… its a business and players like Lin arent promised anything so I would have done the same thing, the thing that NY told Lin to do in the first place… seek the $ and see what you are worth… NY was supposed to match it bc thats where Lin wanted to be but Dolan was prob surprised at the amount Lin pulled in which shouldnt have been a surprise seeing as how he and the franchise raked in $300 mil worth of revenue by selling Linsanity gear. So, please, read and comprehend prior to bashing someone who is just reporting facts not fiction.

    2. Lin and the Rockets agreed on one offer, but it wasn’t official. The whole league knew about it though including the Knicks. Then when it was time for the Rockets and Lin to put pen to paper officially, the contract went up. The Knicks didn’t expect that nor appreciated that. I am simply stating facts, I’m not taking any sides. I want people to know that the Knicks didn’t let go of Jeremy Lin because of money.

      Do you think an additional $5 million (from $9.5 million to $14.9 million) would seriously cause an owner to worry? No way, especially not James Dolan. Obviously Dolan felt betrayed.

      Was Dolan too sensitive? Maybe. Did Jeremy make a mistake by agreeing to an increased contract? Maybe.

      1. I know, what you are saying, but my point is that Lin was not being disrespectful. We live for our own certainly not for someone who is 1000x richer than us, so for sure he will sign for the biggest contract he can as anyone else would. I just don’t understand the betrayal part in this.

        1. You don’t have to think it is a betrayal. Dolan thought it was a betrayal. To him, it seemed either Jeremy didn’t want to be a Knick by working on a richer deal with the Rockets or that Jeremy was looking to take advantage of the rumors that the Knicks would match any offer and get a few more bucks out of it.

          1. YEah, by the time Lin signed that offer, he must be prepared Dolan will not match because it wasn’t the unofficial one. His intention might not be a betrayal but the action itself was enough to let Dolan feels it is. On top of that, if they match that I don’t know what kind of scene it will bring to the locker room of MSG.

  10. Lin didn’t want to come back to knicks he got greedy when the first offer was made by Houston the knicks matched it but then that ass wipe went back to Houston to ask for more then he said he was shocked that knicks didn’t sign him bullshit,i rather have rondo when he becomes free agent any ways n P.S. trade amare n give us josh smith from atl hawks,now at least when i go to the garden i don’t have to see the fake j.lin fans some of the fakest around some of them never even heard of Michael Jordan lol crazy right n if u been to the garden last yr or was in ny or r a new yorker u know exactly what people am talking bout but i wont say new yorkers know who n so do knicks fan

  11. Who cares if Dolan is butt hurt over the situation. he of all people know this is business and so far knicks has handled this extremely poorly. then he goes to the media and says he was betrayed? bitch please. at the end of the day, Lin got ONE offer from a team that really wanted him. knicks never put anything on the table when they five months to do so. they barely even contacted him throughout the free agent process.

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