I was completely shocked by the Knicks not matching Jeremy Lin. Experiencing Linsanity happening to the Knicks was simply one of the best experiences I have ever had as a fan. I could not imagine the Knicks could simply jettison a guy who was so awesome, both on the court and off. I felt the arrival of Lin on the Knicks was a watershed moment for the organization, and would become part of Knicks lore for generations, and perhaps culminate in a championship.
Suffice it to say, I felt completely betrayed by what happened, and felt waves of disgust and hatred for Dolan, Melo, the entire American basketball system, and the country at large.
But now that I've had a little time to calm down, I can begin to analyze the situation, and I'm seeing something a little different.
It's clear to me, as the dust settles, that the Knicks did not put the re-signing of Lin at the highest priority. They made no effort to pre-emptively sign him, and they immediately went after Nash, Kidd, and Felton on July 1. I did not want to see it at the time, but given the marketability of Lin and his impact on the MSG bottom line, it seems Dolan and the organization had non-financial reasons for letting Lin go. In fact, they may very well have lost money by not matching his offer sheet.
Now the reason could have been petty jealousy, or Dolan being Dolan. But I think Dolan does want the Knicks to win, and I think he trusts Grunwald, and I think the fact that he hired Woodson means he's likely to trust Woodson's opinion too. I've watched Dolan do some pretty stupid things..... but refusing to match Lin over the strenuous objections of Grunwald and Woodson, even factoring in Dolan's odd behavior, doesn't seem to fit his M.O. I'm beginning to think that there was a consensus among Grunwald, Woodson, and probably Melo, Amar'e and Chandler that there was something deficient or ill-fitting about either Lin's game or his personality. The free agency plan seems to have been a) find a replacement for Lin, preferably an exciting star, and b) minimize the P.R. damage of losing this international sensation.
Maybe it was that Lin was too much of an Allen Iverson type of drive and kick score first point guard. Maybe they thought his personality was not serious enough. Maybe they thought he didn't have a good sense of how to set up Melo and Amar'e. Maybe they felt he didn't have the experience and personal toughness to lead (and stand up to when necessary) the veterans on the team. Maybe they felt that his success was amplified by how utterly awful the Knicks were looking before D'antoni put him in the game.
Whatever it was, they had to feel pretty strongly about it to elect to withstand the public backlash and stock drop that would ensue. I still think they could be horribly, horribly wrong about Lin. I saw a player that could distribute, command the team, and make huge plays, including scoring plays, when necessary. But perhaps, starved for a point guard since the days of Mark Jackson, I saw what I wanted to see and not what was. In other words, maybe Lin is more Monta Ellis than Steve Nash.
I think that, once they got Felton, Dolan made the call not to match Lin, because he wanted to get the backlash over with rather than extending it throughout the season, even if it meant giving up a valuable asset for nothing.
The whole thing could be some kind of conspiracy to keep a CAA client as the top basketball star in NY. But I don't get where that power would come from. It could be groupthink racism. It could come from Melo's insecurity, or from some sense that somehow Lin didn't belong to the club or hadn't paid his dues. But it could also be that the team made a basketball decision that they felt strongly was right but knew would be very unpopular.
Meanwhile, they got Felton, who I loved on the Knicks, back. Felton is tough, communicative, has great command, and he can stand up to any guys on his team. He's probably better defensively than Lin. They also got Camby AND Kurt Thomas to back up Tyson and Amar'e, and those guys I love, and they know how to win games. Then they signed Ronnie Brewer, a great perimeter defender to a vets minimum deal. And they have Jason Kidd as their backup point guard. I mean, I miss Jorts and DWTDD and Jeffries and Papa Knick and all, but this is all good stuff.
I believed, and still believe, that Lin is a transcendant player. But if Grunwald and Woodson saw some limiting (Linmiting?) factor in his game or mental makeup and honestly felt that Felton / Kidd / Prigioni were better options, and made that decision, knowing it would be unpopular, because they thought it would give them a better chance to win it all, well, then I can respect that.
And remain a Knick fan. For now. Let's see how Lin does next year.