New York improved without Linsanity
lars at Lin in July and were maybe just as surprised as so many others when the Knicks let them have him. They could have kept Lin simply by matching the Rockets’ offer, which was widely considered to be a foregone conclusion, and the big-market Knicks could have afforded him.
Instead, they traded for Felton, and signed Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, and nobody can argue now. The Knicks are the best in the league in taking care of the ball — a Lin weakness even during his highest point — and they have the best record in the Eastern Conference with Felton and Kidd starting together in a two point guard backcourt.
“I’m not taking anything away from what we had last year, those guys gave us all they had, but to win at a big level in this league you’ve got to have good point guard play. I think Jason Kidd and Raymond and Pablo have fflled that void that we were somewhat missing last year,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
The Knicks were going nowhere without anyone to run former coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense and just days from needing to cut Lin or guarantee his salary for the remainder of the season when D’Antoni turned to him in a Feb. 4 game against the Nets. Lin scored 25 points off the bench, was promoted to the starting lineup two nights later, and the phenomenon known as Linsanity was born.
An undrafted player
11.0 from Harvard who had been cut three times already and was so uncertain of his NBA future that he had slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before his breakout because he had refused to get his own place with an unguaranteed contract, Lin became an immediate hit with fans around the world. The ffrst Americanborn player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent made a massive impact for the Knicks at the box office and merchandise stands, not to mention what he did for them in the standings.
A season’s worth of highlights were packed into just a few weeks: the double-double in a national TV rout of defending champion Dallas; the 38 points to outduel Kobe Bryant in a victory over the Lakers; the 3-pointer in the ffnal second to win a game at Toronto. He became a media sensation, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in consecutive weeks, and brought the Knicks more positive attention than
.397 they had received in ages.
Lin ended up needing knee surgery in March that ended his season after just 25 starts. Woodson had insisted Lin would be back, even after Lin and the Rockets had agreed to a contract that was worth about $28 million over four years. The terms were then amended to about $25 million over three years, the ffnal year worth nearly $15 million but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the new collective bargaining agreement.
So they let him go, and Lin has had some solid moments, but few that indicate he could turn into a $25 million player. He matched his career high with 38 points in a loss to San Antonio and helped the Rockets rout the Knicks in Houston last month, but was averaging about 11 for the season while shooting under 40 percent from the ffeld. He’s even occasionally replaced by Toney Douglas, another former Knick, in the closing minutes of close games.