Is it too simplistic to say that Jeremy Lin and New York need each other? Maybe. Before the Big Apple, Lin was a backup point guard with a cult following on the opposite side of the country. Before Lin made his mark, the Knicks were 8-15 with no hint of becoming the team that would eventually finish the season six games over .500 and the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
But then Lin hit it big.
According to Baxter Holmes of the L.A. Times, traffic to the Knicks' online store boosted by 4000 percent. Ticket sales at StubHub became a hot commodity, selling at roughly twice what they were previously going for. All of this because Lin scored 25 points, pulled seven boards, and dished seven assists in a game against the New Jersey Nets, and he didn't stop there. Lin would score 20-plus points in his first six games, and in nine of his first 10. He was also prolific at dishing out dimes as well, handing out seven or more assists 10 of his first 11 games.
All because New York took a chance on Lin.
But Lin fits into New York's offensive system nicely. He can create his own shot, but also has the court vision and basketball smarts to defer to star teammates Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, as well as up-and-comers Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert, and the capable Tyson Chandler. It's a very good group of players for Lin to hone his skills with and to further develop his craft while not having to necessarily be a shoot-first point guard.
The restricted tag really works well for both sides. The Knicks will place a qualifying offer—likely up to $2.6 million, or about four times Lin's 2011-12 salary—and wait for teams to try and sign Lin to an offer sheet. If the offer is reasonable—and there's always a chance it might not be—the Knicks can simply keep their up-and-coming guard at a rate they've already deemed reasonable for likely three or four years. If the deal is exorbitant, the Knicks will simply wish Lin well, knowing he has still only starred in the NBA for 25 starts—less than one-third of a typical NBA campaign—and that he may not fit as well with another squad or system, which would vindicate the decision.
As for Lin, he'll either get the season to play out and prove his legitimacy as an NBA talent while banking a nice little raise, or he'll get that first—who knows, maybe only?—big contract which will set him and his family for life, even if the Arena's rights deem him unable to get a contract above the average NBA salary.
At this point, it seems likely that Lin—who didn't play after March 24 due to arthroscopic knee surgery—will return to the Knicks. But if he doesn't, there should be plenty of other suitors.
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