Linpocrisy: What People Fail To See In Jeremy Lin

The rise of Jeremy Lin has made the young point guard one of the most polarizing players in New York. There seems to be a myriad of ridiculous misconceptions concerning the 23 year old point guard that has made evaluating his contract situation extremely difficult. Lin’s detractors will say that the he is just a backup, that the Knicks are only re-signing him to appeal to Asian Americans, or that Lin will force the Knicks to pay a huge luxury tax bill. These doubts have prompted some to believe that Lin is simply not a good fit for New York. This notion is completely ridiculous, misguided by stereotypes and hypocrisy. Truth be told, the Knicks need Jeremy Lin, the basketball player, more than any of Lin’s critics could possibly imagine.

The Knicks began their off-season with an intelligent approach to the restricted free agency of Jeremy Lin. They decided to wait and let the market set itself. The team is often ridiculed for “bidding against itself”, so why would the team immediately give Lin the maximum they could give him, without knowing for sure he’d demand it? The situation also presented itself as an opportunity for Lin to seek more money than the Knicks could give him, while remaining on the Knicks, as the team could match any offer-sheet he signed.

It was naturally assumed by everyone that the Knicks would match any offer Lin received, and correctly so, but the reason why they are matching it, is when the hypocrisy begins. One would hear it everywhere; the Knicks would resign Jeremy Lin because he attracted an Asian fan base that could make the Knicks money. While that point may be true, that is not the sole reason why the Knicks had to match any offer for Lin: the Knicks had to match because it makes them the best basketball team they can be.

The Knicks are well over the salary cap and will be so for the next 3 years until Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler all become free agents. The new CBA will result in a salary cap system where it will be very difficult for teams over the salary cap to improve their teams. People always seem to forget that Jeremy Lin is actually a good player. The production he put up for the Knicks last year cannot easily be replicated. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game, despite the fact that he played less than 10 minutes in 8 of his 35 games played. In the other 27 games, Lin averaged 18.1 points and 7.6 assists per game.

Steve Nash would have likely been an upgrade to Lin, due to his experience at running an offense, but that ship has sailed. The Knicks made their best attempt at acquiring the future Hall of Famer but came up short. They should be commended for that. After this season, teams over the luxury tax cannot do sign-and-trades. Virtually, the Knicks will only have the taxpayer mid level exception to sign players. What point guard is going to come to the Knicks that can top 15 points and 6 assists per game, let alone 18 and 8, for just $3 million a year?

Lin’s numbers may be a little bloated because the offense was running through him, but who is to say that he can’t be a better, more efficient player in the future? This is where more hypocrisy on the behalf of Lin critics set in. For some reason, people seem to believe that the 23-year-old Jeremy Lin, who was basically a rookie last year, cannot improve. Why is that? Does everyone think that rookie of the year Kyrie Irving cannot improve on the 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game that he averaged last season (which is strikingly similar to Lin’s averages)? Has anyone ever taken a second to realize that maybe the Houston Rockets offered Lin a contract because they think he is a point guard that can get better, and not because he can draw back the Asian fan base that left with Yao Ming? Newsflash: a player has to be good to draw a fan base, evidenced by the fact that Asians aren’t rushing to see Yi Jianlian.

Not to be mistaken, Lin’s popularity eases the decision for the Knicks, but the contract the Rockets gave Lin would have been matched regardless. The offer sheet is actually an extremely favorable offer sheet. The “poison pill” portion of the deal doesn’t arrive until the third year and the fourth year is a team option (in other words, it’s not guaranteed until the Knicks say so). Ultimately, even if Jeremy Lin does not get any better (which is pretty hard to believe), he is the best option for a Knicks team that has no way to acquire a starting point guard, except via the draft (which is not something to bet on).

Signing Jeremy Lin will put the Knicks deep into the luxury tax, but that really shouldn’t be something Knicks fans should worry about. The Knicks won’t lose any flexibility by signing Lin (or even if they match Landry Fields); it will only hurt James Dolan’s pocket. If Dolan is willing to pay, then he can be my guest. Sure, being deep into the luxury tax sounds a lot like the Isaiah Era thing, but the difference is that the Knicks now have a way out. In 3 years, basically every player on the Knicks will be coming off the books. So before anyone talks about the Knicks overpaying for a player, just remember that it only changes how much extra cash James Dolan has. Once a team already has no flexibility, it doesn’t matter how much a team pays for a player, as long as the owner is willing to pay.

A lot of the time, fans look at a player by his contract when they should be looking at how the player helps their team. Knicks fans are in a situation where they don’t have to worry about their owner being afraid to pay players. In this regard, the Knicks off season had given them players who can play a role and give them even more flexibility. Is that really overpaying? Are the Knicks really overpaying for Lin? No, because the amount that the Knicks are paying Lin is worth not having the point guard debacle that they had last season.

  • Anonymous

    Good article. I completely agree with the Lin position as it related to contracts based on potential and numbers as a starter. I think a good basis of comarison is to look at Lin, Irving, and Rubio since they the 3 standout rookie PG who all were essentially given their first shot at starter minutes last season. This is what each did as a starter:

    Irving: 18.5 pts, 5.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 3.7 rebounds, .469 FG%, 51 starts
    Rubio: 10.8 pts, 8.3 assists, 2.4 steals, 4.3 rebounds, .330 FG%, 31 starts
    Lin: 18.2 pts, 7.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 3.7 rebounds, .445 FG%, 25 starts

    As you can see, Lin compares very well with both of those guys as Rubio/Irving were both named to the NBA all rookie first team with Irving winning the ROY honor.

    As for Fields, I still am not so sure. You’re point regarding cap issue will compound in year 3 (2014-15). However, this will be a contract year for Amare and it’s a player option year for Carmelo. So, there are still possible moving parts in that Amare would be tradeable asset in his last year contract season. So, again, I’m not sure I want commit 9M to Fields knowing he probably doesn’t project to be a starter in NY.

    • Suitupewing

      Still concerned about the fact that his assist to turnover ratio is massive.

      • http://twitter.com/TheFightSayeth My Name is The Fight

        best part of being a pseudo-rookie. You get to learn from those mistakes.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sachin.purohit.904 Sachin Purohit

        More than that, people forget the few games he did play, he was being run on D’Antoni “I cant coach” minutes. Basically, 40+ on a torn meniscus as the only legit PG on the team in MDs speedball system. Less possessions, less minutes, other legit PGs mean it will inherently come down ASIDE from any on the court improvement. Said it before – perennial allstars often start their careers with flashes like that while mediocre / bad players basically never have even one at any point in their careers. So calling him a backup is pretty ignorant…those who are. Doesn’t mean he’s a lock for HOF or anything…but if he ends up a 12-8 PG…how awful was this? To me that’s 4-5 mil / yr anyway…aside from the nonsense contract inflation that’s going on.

        The cost: Watching whats been happening for a few years and especially this year (Asik’s offer, Fields contract, general overpayment for anyone), you’d have to have your head in the sand to say “we dont know what his value would be.” It was clearly going to be more than our max and if you seriously were sitting there thinking, “maybe no one makes an offers” from an FO position, you’d need to give me your job. We should have offered our max to A) show our commitment to his return esp. if we were certain to match any offer and B) try to get the lowest cost. That way there’s the chance he doesn’t shop around – otherwise we’re right back at this exact spot. The idea is to pay LESS for MORE. Not just pay more for no reason when you dont have to. (see the Camby trade as well!).

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think anyone envisioned the “poison pill” offer on Lin until the Rockets offered it to Asik. I think the Knicks were hopeful that many teams would feel the sampling of games Lin played might keep him below the 4yrs 21M mark so they took a risk. The Knicks didn’t want to set the market by going in at 4 yrs 21M without seeing what others were thinking.

          Unfortunately, it backfired but it could have been a lot worse. It could have been up to 15M in yr 3 . . . and a guaranteed 4th year. So, basically, it could have cost up to 20M more all guaranteed. At least with the deal he agreed to the 4th year is a team option. So, at worst, the Knicks are facing an additional 4M in year 3 then have the discretion to decide what to do about year 4. Fine by me.

      • Anonymous

        Turnover percentage is a good statistical measure since it accounts for the percentage of possessions used by a player that result in turnovers. Lin’s was high at 21.4 but lower than others like Rondo (22.8), Nash (27.1), and Rubio (22.2). I agree he must get the number down but he’s also not just a pass first guard averaging 18.2 pts as a starter and gets to the line a lot.

        Basically, because of how often he gets into the paint it creates turnovers. To me, this was the most glaring need of the Knicks for several years on offense . . .dribble penetration. Honestly, I love his agression and I’ll live with a higher turnover rate because he also gets others involved and moving towards the basket rather than just playing hot potato around the perimeter . . . or the detested stand around and watch Melo shoot offense. Having a guy like Lin is key in keeping our offense fluid . . . same goes for Kidd.

        • Jen SMith

          If the turnovers are a result of him playing aggressive that win games for the team, I would rather have the turnovers. He knows how to win games, that is what matters most.

    • Giordnao709

      Maybe adding the team winning percentage will give an even clearer picture on Lin’s influence.

  • Giordano709

    Poor article written!
    Because a very important point is missed, which is Lin is helping the team winning, making teammates around him much better, making a messy team to be an energetic, unified winning team. These all are not shown in numbers.

    Some players or even super stars provides good numbers, but never a winning mentality. Lin is different, while providing numbers, he is also a fighters as well as a leader, with never die work ethics, great composure and clutch performance.

    Good numbers do not necessarily win you games. It’s much more than numbers to win you games again and again. Those qualities is priceless and always not shown in the statistics.

    • The Raging Platypus

      You need to work on your reading comprehension. The article is arguing in favor of what you just said.

    • Marisa

      And I quote: “the Knicks had to match because it makes them the best basketball team they can be”

  • Anonymous

    First off, I am one who believes Jeremy Lin is and always will be a backup PG in the NBA, not starter material. It has nothing to do with racism or hypocrisy. There is nothing hypocritical about expressing your opinion and for you to make a blanket statement that it’s about racism is extremely presumtive and totally wrong on your part.

    We disagree with you—get over it.

    • The Raging Platypus

      Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s laughing at the irony in your last sentence.

    • Marisa

      I also applaud how you argued his points and clearly demonstrated where your opinions stem from, beyond his race.

      Oh wait.

      Perhaps you need to give this article another read. Maybe you need to rewatch what our *23* year old point guard did in his *first* season with any consistent playing time.

      Or maybe everyone that actually provides reasons and statistics along with his or her analysis should “get over it.”

      • Anonymous

        Marisa,

        After your 23 year old point guard (BTW, Kyrie Irving was 19 last season) plays a full season, and maintains those flamboyantly deceptive statistics, then come back and talk to me.

        • Marisa

          Well, as you know, someone doesn’t have to have Irving’s upside to be a starting point guard in this league. Wasn’t that your claim? You think Jeremy Lin is a career backup which is quite difficult to accomplish without a quality starter to back up.

          He might have “flamoyantly deceptive statistics” which ultimately could mean he isn’t going to be an all-star, but I have a lot of trouble believing a player that shredded the Lakers, is the same guy that you think isn’t even good enough to start in the league. Many people are so quick to think he’s either the player he was throughout Linsanity or he’s a backup. God forbid he’s just a quality starter. All he needs to prove is that he is a quality enough player to compliment our big money players. He doesn’t need to score 18 per game to do this., although he’s already showed that he could score and get plenty of assists if we needed him to.

          But sure, I’ll come back and talk to you after the year is done.

          • Anonymous

            I’ll be waiting…

          • The Raging Platypus

            You know, I’ll never understand why fans who don’t buy into Jeremy Lin (which is perfectly fine, by the way! God knows you’re entitled to your opinion) like to set up this strawman where Lin-maniacs believe he eats lead and poops out gold-plated stat lines. While I think this article goes a bit too far in painting doubters with the same accusatory brush, posters like TrueLifeStories swing the other way and dismiss stereotyping as one of the many factors in belittling Lin as a player.

            In any case, most Knick fans believe he has the potential – potential! – to become a top 15 PG in the NBA. Even if his gaudy stats dropped down to a “pedestrian” 14 pt 8 assist 1.5 steals a game, that would still make him a top 15 starter in the league!

            I don’t think any reasonable assessment of Jeremy Lin’s ability would conclude that he has the ceiling of a Kyrie Irving, but their rookie stats aren’t that different in terms of end production. There hasn’t been a “career backup” PG in the history of the league that blew up the stat sheet the way Jeremy did in their first year of substantial playing time! So even if we allow for a very generous regression, the resulting numbers would still be more than acceptable.

  • Anonymous

    Great points, especially the yi jianlin point.