Carmelo Anthony has never liked Jeremy Lin. Melo, the “franchise player” who has a 17-37 career playoff record, hated it when Lin burst onto the NBA scene at the end of January and owned – owned – the league for three weeks, vaulting the Knicks from the lottery into the playoff picture. Lin’s meteoric rise mostly coincided with an Anthony injury, essentially dividing the team and the fanbase. Who can forget Anthony derisively referring to Lin as “Rudy?”
Who were you backing? The scoring star who guided Syracuse to a title but has never made any of his teammates better and is 1-8 in the first round of the playoffs, or a money-printing Asian-American point guard who defied the odds to reach the NBA and went through a 25-game span as a starter where he averaged 18.2 ppg and 7.7 apg? (In an effort of full-disclosure, while I have rooted for Syracuse hoops since roughly 1986, I purchased a Jeremy Lin t-shirt.)
Anyone who has watched a quarter of basketball in their life knows the two could not exist on the same court. Anthony is a ball-stopping black hole on offense. Lin is a late-bloomer who went to Harvard and excels in the pick-and-roll (we’ll beat you over the head with stats in a moment).
When the Knicks went into a post-All-Star break tailspin – there’s no way there were going to keep up the 10-3 mark in February sparked by Lin – it’s easy to image what went on behind-the-scenes: Melo bitched to management, and then Mike D’Antoni “resigned.” D’Antoni was a pick-and-roll fan who made his name coaching Steve Nash; clearly, he was in Lin’s camp. Melo won that power struggle.
Melo – a guy who got a DUI on the eve of the playoffs in Denver, a punk who threw a sucker punch in the Garden while playing for the Nuggets, and a thug who appeared in the famous “Stop Snitchin” video – had the franchise by the balls from the day he forced a trade to New York. The Knicks foolishly overpaid Denver for him – and please, STOP with the, “he would have gone elsewhere if they didn’t!” garbage because there’s no way he was going to accept a trade to the Nets – and then when he got to the island and the Knicks struggled, the former No. 3 pick in the draft moped because he didn’t have anyone around him.
That’s New York’s “guy.” Knicks fans are thrilled!
– The Rockets went to Lin with an initial offer. Lin’s people allegedly went back and said that wasn’t going to cut it, and Lin wasn’t going to sign the offer sheet.
– That’s when Houston discovered a “loophole” that would allow them to make a 3-year offer where his salary would be the same each year, but New York’s would balloon in year three to $14.8 million. Damn you, Daryl Morey!
– The Knicks saw that number in the third year, panicked – luxury tax, all that – and went scrambling for a backup option to Lin. Hey, let’s bring back Raymond Felton! [Vomit]
– Once this story popped, Carmelo Anthony called the $14.8 million situation “ridiculous” and then JR Smith scoffed at it, too. Yeah, there’s no way the Knicks are matching.
Is the $14.8 million in year three too high? Probably, but that depends – if Lin is a 18-7 guy over the course of a season, isn’t he a steal at $5 million per for two years? Nobody knows if Lin’s 25 games as a starter will translate to 18-7 over the course of a season. If you’re going to play the “wasn’t drafted/flash in the pan” card, then sure, $14.8 million in the third year is certainly too high. I’ll counter with this: I’d rather wait-and-see, and let’s try to move Amare.
Lin only turns 24 in August! He hasn’t played 100 NBA games yet. Why can’t he get better? How do we know he won’t improve his jumper and 3-point shot? In the event he gets worse, there’s always going to be a market for Lin because of what he brings off the court (hello Houston and Golden State, among others).
Listen – if the Hawks can trade the worst contract in the league, the Knicks and GM Glen Grunwald surely can figure a way out of this quandary should Lin stink up the joint. It’s too bad they foolishly used their amnesty on Chauncey Billups, or else they could use it on Amare “Can’t Jump Anymore” Stoudemire.