Jeremy Lin stormed on to the NBA scene when he suited up for the New York Knicks and captured the eyes of the NBA world with his phenomenal scoring outbursts, helped spur a Knicks’ seven-game winning streak, displayed passion on the court, and fearless play.
Yes for a while, “Linsanity” made the Knicks the center of attention in the NBA world but a knee injury to Lin would be the end of his time on the court for the remainder of the season.
And now that the summer for the Knicks has begun, the team will have to decide whether or not Lin will come back (he is a restricted free agent) and at what asking price. But if you are thinking that him coming back to the “Big Apple,” where his rise to NBA spotlight began, was all but a done deal, think again.
According to his agent and Lin himself, don’t think New York is his preferred or only destination next season.
“I don’t expect that. We’re not anticipating that’s going to happen. We don’t have assurances of anything,” Lin’s agent, Roger Montgomery, said in an interview with the New York Post. “I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything. We’re waiting to see what happens.”
“There’s always going to be uncertainty until the final contract is signed, so definitely nothing is set in stone,” Lin said. “Nothing’s set in stone until it’s really written.”
There have been many reports that Lin will be drawing many suitors but do not forget, there is that “little” issue regarding his Bird Rights.
The union and league are at odds over whether the Bird rights for waived players should be transferred to their new teams. The union says the rights, which allow teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign players, should transfer for players who are waived. The league argues that the Bird rights should not transfer.
This is significant for Lin because he was picked up off of waivers by the Knicks. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the union, then the Knicks would be allowed to exceed the cap to sign both Lin and forward Steve Novak, who also was acquired off of waivers.
This would also allow the Knicks to use their $5 million mid-level exception on another player. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the league, the Knicks will likely have to use their mid-level exception to re-sign Lin and would be limited in their pursuit of other free agents.
In the end, having Lin come back to New York will be a significant move for the future of the team. A backcourt of Iman Shumpert and Lin coupled with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire (fully healthy) could be a solid starting unit especially considering the Knicks’ greatest concern right now is the point guard spot.
Baron Davis absolutely wrecked his knee in the playoffs versus the Heat and Mike Bibby is certainly past his prime. A Lin and Shumpert frontcourt will be one of the best in the NBA.
However, how much will the Knicks or any team is willing to spend is a question.
Last season he averaged 14.6 points, 1.6 steals, 6.2 assists, shot 44% from the field, 32% from the three-point line in 26.9 minutes for the Knicks last season before suffering the knee injury. However, he turned the ball over 3.6 times. That’s a whopping 21.4% turnover percentage.
The good thing about that is the turnover issue can be corrected with a full training camp, and a full regular season for any team he decides to sign with next season.