SBD/July 18, 2012/Franchises

Knicks Let Jeremy Lin Go After Electing Not To Match Rockets' Three-Year, $25.1M Offer Sheet

People question whether Knicks letting Lin go was a basketball or money decision
The Knicks last night “cut ties” with G Jeremy Lin, “ending a brief, spectacular and now-bittersweet love affair between” Lin and an adoring fan base, according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. Lin will play next season for the Rockets, who “signed him to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet that the Knicks chose not to match.” The Knicks’ “most popular player in more than a decade, who rose from obscurity, saved their season and became a global sensation, is gone.” Now comes “the inevitable backlash from an embittered fan base that is suspicious of the Knicks’ motives and already disdainful” of team Owner James Dolan’s leadership. As the news of Lin’s impending departure spread yesterday, fans on Twitter “lashed out at Dolan and Knicks management.” Some “renounced their loyalty to the team and said they would root for the Brooklyn-bound Nets” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/18). On Long Island, Al Iannazzone writes despite his “extreme popularity with fans and the revenue he generates with his off-the-court appeal, it was doubtful Lin … would be back following the events of the previous four days” (NEWSDAY, 7/18). FOXSPORTS.com’ Sam Gardner writes Lin’s footprint in Texas “will never compare to the one he left on the Knicks, the city of New York and the sport of basketball on a global scale during one of the most unorthodox, short-lived tenures the game has ever seen” (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/18).

DUMB & DUMBER: ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor writes Dolan just made “one of the dumbest moves of his basketball life, which is saying a mouthful.” Lin was “going places, and now he's going, going, gone.” But the Knicks “ran off Lin anyway, if only to make the point that nobody … crosses Jim Dolan and gets away with it” (ESPNNY.com, 7/18). GRANTLAND.com’s Jay Caspian King wrote under the header, “Dumb Move, Dolan.” The failure to re-sign Lin, “despite months of guarantees, seems to be the latest in a line of silly, PR-inspired bumblings by a man who has continually thought, out-thought, rethought, and then un-thought himself” (GRANTLAND.com, 7/17). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote Lin is the “most remarkable, most marketable thing to happen to the NBA since [Heat F] LeBron James.” Doyel: “Other than the rise, fall and rise again of LeBron, this league and the nation -- no, the world -- of NBA fans haven't been captivated by anything the way we were last season by Jeremy Lin. ... Whoever’s calling the shots for the Knicks is a buffoon, and I really hope it’s owner James Dolan” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/17). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “Of all the places for a franchise to draw a line, they drew it at the one guy who made them likable again" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 7/18). ESPN.com’s John Hollinger wrote under the header, “Knicks Pick Bad Time To Be Frugal.” The “shocking thing” about the Knicks’ decision is that it “flies completely in the face of their entire rationale in building this team.” But this “was a money decision, and keeping Lin was going to cost some serious cash” (ESPN.com, 7/17).

MONEY OR BASKETBALL? In Newark, Alex Raskin wrote even someone as “impossibly rich” as Dolan “should think twice about committing around $55 million for one season of a player who was practically free a year ago.” There is the “outside chance that this is a basketball decision -- something seen as an impossibility by the Knicks' cynical breed of fan” (NJ.com, 7/17). In N.Y., Frank Isola writes the feeling inside the organization is that the Knicks “gave Lin a chance and helped to create his brand only to have him negotiate a deal that made it cost-prohibitive to keep him” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). Isola added, "Jeremy Lin needs New York, in my opinion, more than New York needs him, because that’s where he’s really going to make a lot of that money off-the-court” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 7/17). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the hype on Lin “was bigger than he was, people acting as if this was one more Knick calamity to go with so many others over the past decade.” Lupica: “No, this was just business, for Jeremy Lin, for his agents, for the Rockets, for the New York Knicks. Again: If Dolan and his basketball guys thought he was worth the money and the taxes, they would have figured out a way” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger writes, “If the Knicks are wrong, does that mean, in turn, that the Rockets are right? ... Does logic follow that Jeremy Lin will be a $14.9 million basketball player three years from now? Can anyone say that with certainty?” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/18).

SPONSORSHIP HITS LESS THAN POISON PILL: ESPN's Darren Rovell noted the Knicks have a sponsorship deal with Taiwan-based tire manufacturer Maxxis International and the team will "probably be out a couple of million dollars." However, that is "not enough when you analyze and think about that third year” in Lin's contract. Lin is scheduled to earn $14.9M that year, which would cost the Knicks another $35M when luxury-tax penalties are factored in. Rovell said the Knicks think that if they "continue to win, ratings will be there for their MSG Network and that will lead to their stock price." Rovell: "The Knicks believe from a business standpoint … that this is the best move” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/17).
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