The Jeremy Lin experience ended late on the evening of July 17th, when it leaked that the Knicks weren't going to match the "poison pill" contract offer he had signed with the Rockets. Although $25 million for three years was widely regarded as an excessive amount for a player who had started only 25 NBA games, the working theory was that because Lin had gone back to the Rockets in search of an offer that would be more onerous for the Knicks, petulant owner-scion James Dolan refused to match the offer out of spite. And so Linsanity went the way of a blackout or a city-crippling snowstorm: something the city will never forget, but something that was only temporary. Still, it was awesome:
With the Knicks atop the Eastern Conference at 18-5, it's clear their decision to let Lin walk—whether made for basketball reasons or personal ones—was correct. Here's why:
Jeremy Lin is a very inexperienced NBA player, so it isn't entirely fair to compare him to seven-year vet Raymond Felton. And Lin is improving: surprisingly, taking care of the ball is one area where he wouldn't hurt the Knicks. Lin was a turnover machine during his time in New York but he's gotten much better there, averaging 2.7 turnovers a game to Felton's 2.4. He's also been forced to adjust to playing with James Harden (a player who also likes to operate with the ball in his hands); he had a nice 38-point outing against the Spurs last week. But with Carmelo Anthony in the prime of his career, there was no sense in waiting to find out what Lin might become. The Knicks clearly made the right decision in letting Lin go.
That doesn't mean Linsanity isn't still helping the Knicks from afar. Said Kobe Bryant after losing at the Garden last week: "I think last year was very tough for [Melo] because he was criticized a lot for shooting and for playing the way that he likes to play. Then the whole Linsanity thing happened, and everybody said, 'Well, they win better without Melo' and all this nonsense. You guys [the media] are guilty of it. You guys really put the hammer on him. And as a result, he kind of got a little gun-shy and a little self-conscious about things."
Anyone who's watched the Knicks this season knows how Carmelo Anthony channeled his frustration. And as exciting as Linsanity was, May playoff games at MSG will be a whole lot better.