Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jeremy Lin now a Houston Rocket

It's official. The Knicks foolishly declined to match the Rockets' 3 year 25 million dollar offer, not unlike how the Dallas Mavericks gave up prematurely on Steve Nash. Jeremy Lin is now a Houston Rocket. Via Twitter, Lin says good-bye to the Knicks and links a Sports Illustrated article that tells his side of his free agency story. Extensive ESPN coverage. The salary + luxury tax dollar cost difference between 9+ million and 15 million dollars in year 3: 20 million dollars.

Jeremy Lin Tribute - Smiles:

It sucks he's leaving New York and I'm sad. For me and my family, each of Lin's Knicks games was an important personal must-see event. I guess I have to look into signing up for Rockets games on NBA TV (or is it League Pass?).

During Lin's free agency saga, I was a frequent visitor at Jeremylin.net, TheKnicksblog.com, Knickerblogger.net, and PostingandToasting.com to share the emotional roller coaster experience with other Knicks Lin fans. All along, Lin's return to the Knicks was assumed to be a sure thing, until the Knicks front office reacted guardedly to the revised offer from the Rockets then surprised us with a hasty trade for Raymond Felton. With Lin's return suddenly in doubt, we hoped cooler heads would prevail and rationalized that Felton and Lin could play together. The writing was on the wall, though, and Knicks Lin fans have since been traveling through the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. I'm now at Depression moving into Acceptance. Lin's gone to Houston and taken his pure youthful light and promise of hope with him. The fan blog communities helped a lot, especially Knickerblogger.net and PostingandToasting.com. But I probably won't be visiting them much more as Linsanity fades away in New York. This Knicks team without Lin doesn't interest me. Lurking at Rockets blog TheDreamShake.com is a definite option.

The Knicks made a mistake. They need Lin's abilities more than they realize now, and more than Felton and Kidd can provide. The Knicks will miss Lin's versatility, energy, playmaking, high basketball IQ, big-moment clutchness, and creative isolation scoring. Winning in the play-offs requires multiple isolation scorers, ball movement, and a knack for clutch plays - Lin would have provided the Knicks all three.

I was aware and wary of the dysfunctional culture of the Knicks. But I wanted Lin to stay on the Knicks for 1 to 2 more seasons so he could develop into a mature veteran before moving on to shoulder the load of leading his own team. Lin's skills as a do-everything playmaking SG/PG combo guard are already complete and his penchant for the spectacular can't be taught, but his PG game is still underdeveloped. With the Knicks, Lin had the opportunity to hone his innate PG talent and instincts and craft his conventional facilitator floor-general PG skillset. PG areas for improvement: running set plays, on-the-ball defense, tightening his combo-guard handle into a PG handle, reading defenses, half-court passing, and court awareness (his court vision is fine). Lin would have built up winning quality regular and post-season reps with the Knicks. Last season, he wore down with his punishing attacking style and suffered a "wear and tear" knee injury. Next season, I want him to learn to shift gears, moderate his pace, and use a balanced, efficient style where he can stay healthy for the full NBA grind. Based on Lin's 7 games under Woodson and with Kidd's tutelage, I believe Lin would have improved his playing pace next season as a Knick.

Ready or not, prematurely or not, Lin now has his own team. It's like a draft do-over for Lin. Being undrafted in 2010 was a mistake. Lin is joining the Rockets essentially like a #1 over-all draft pick, like a Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose, who is anointed the team's savior. The Rockets roster is in upheaval, but not without intriguing young talent. He instantly becomes the team's centerpiece and leader. Lin should be comfortable in the familiar role of leading an underdog team. He'll fit in well with the Rockets offense that Goran Dragic shone in last season.

With the Knicks, Lin would have been subjected to the fan expectations of a win-now team and judged on his play-off performance, but he would have been insulated by his star veteran teammates and his coach. On the Rockets, Lin faces a different kind of pressure as the team's resident star. The spotlight will be on him. However, fans have low expectations for the Rockets right now and perception is calibrated by expectation. If Lin can give the Rockets a feisty fun style and good 'Linsanity' vibes, provide a few upset wins over contenders, lead the team into the 1st round of the play-offs, and play competitively there, Houstonians will be happy and Lin's rising star will be secure.

I hope Lin is working hard to get ready for next season. Last season, I thought Woodson took over for D'Antoni just in time, because the top defenses had sussed out Lin's limitations as the dominant ball-handler, playmaker, and decision-maker in D'Antoni's system. Woodson reduced Lin's responsibilities as a PG without taking away his strengths as a clutch playmaker. On the Rockets, Lin will now be thrust back into the dominant PG role that Woodson had eased him from. Lin will continue outplaying average NBA teams and PGs, but the good teams and PGs will challenge him hard next season. I worry most that Lin will push himself too hard to justify his contract and lead his young team and hurt himself again. I hope Lin's knees are cured and he'll be physically able to endure the full NBA grind.

Former Knicks teammate who was traded for Marcus Camby and current (for now) Rockets teammate Josh Harrellson believes Lin will be a good fit with the Rockets:
“This offense is guard-oriented,” said Rockets forward Josh Harrellson, Lin’s teammate with the Knicks. “He’s going to have the ball the majority of the time. If you look at our roster, he’s going to be our superstar. In New York, you can’t say the same. Hopefully, he can come here, the offense can run through him, and he can make all the decisions for us.

“As you can see, we don’t have a point guard right now. Right now, it’s instant minutes for him. For a kid that wants to play basketball and be part of a team and make it successful, hopefully he can come and do that for us.”

Good-bye, Jeremy. I'm sad you're leaving us. The Knicks were effervescent with you at the helm. Establish your NBA star in Houston and prove the Knicks made a stupid shortsighted mistake by giving up on you. I'll be worrying for you and rooting you on from here. Maybe when you're a free agent again in 3 years you'll come back to us to take over the Knicks after the Anthony/Stoudemire era. You're a credit to your race and a hero to us in particular, your Taiwanese American tribe. Now, go to Houston and prove all the skeptics and doubters wrong, and prove your fans right.




Blogger Mad Minerva said...

Hi, Eric,

I thought you might enjoy this video from Lin's visit to Taipei:


9/06/2012 1:52 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks, Minerva. Good stuff. Whether it's from him or his team, Lin's PR continues to be pitch-perfect.

9/06/2012 8:22 PM  
Blogger k.smith said...

good stuff, wish I found your blog/comments sooner.

11/19/2012 3:03 PM  

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