Who's most to blame: Jeremy Lin or the Knicks?
At the start of free agency on July 1, Knicks GM Glen Grunwald said he wanted to re-sign Jeremy Lin, but he allowed the point guard to test the market.
As a restricted free agent, Lin had the right to do so. And, the Knicks could sit back and patiently observe because they could match any offer.
While you could argue that the Knicks didn't have to do that if they were committed to Lin, what's more significant is how Lin handled the Rockets' offer sheet, which gave the Knicks a bigger financial hit.
After agreeing to a high contract, Lin signed an even higher one that guaranteed him roughly $15 million in his third season (2014-15). As one agent put it, "You can't give that much money to a guy who proved himself over just 26 games."
While many people are focusing only on Houston's extremely high, backloaded deal and the Knicks not matching, they're glossing over the fact that Lin accepted what was offered.
He agreed to the poison pill knowing full well what the implications would be to New York if the Knicks matched. There could've been an opportunity for even dollar-amount distributions to avoid making it tough on the Knicks, who could offer Lin only 7 percent raises year over year.
Lin could've been a Knick, but it appears that the team didn't want to absorb his hefty salary. Not only that, he could have been the team's starting point guard, as coach Mike Woodson said three times publicly since the season ended. But Lin drove up his price too much, which likely incensed the Knicks.
Now, with Raymond Felton, the team feels it has a starting point guard who, like Lin, has something to prove.
Maybe, for once, James Dolan's conservativeness will pay off.
COULD HAVE AND DIDN'T
Unfortunately, I'll probably never know what it feels like to spend $14.8 million.
So it's hard for me to write critically about Knicks owner James Dolan's role in the Jeremy Lin fiasco.
Dolan, as you know, decided not to spend as much as $43 million to employ Lin in 2014-15, if you add in luxury taxes.
Since I've never had to decide how to spend that kind of money (and probably never will, sigh), it's hard for me to take issue with Dolan for deciding against it.
It's not my money.
But there were other decisions the Knicks made in this process that are open to questioning.
I'm thinking particularly of the decision to let Lin go out and test the open market.
By all indications, the Knicks had the opportunity to lock in Lin to a four-year, $24 million deal at the start of free agency. But GM Glen Grunwald chose to let Lin establish his value on the open market. And that's what he did.
A little less than three weeks later, Lin finds himself on the Houston Rockets. And people are angry.
Of course, blame can be spread to both sides in this, but the Knicks were fully prepared to match Houston's original offer of four years, $28.8 million. The terms of the deal changed (just how and why that happened is open to interpretation), and the Knicks balked.
But, before all of that, the Knicks had an opportunity to lock up Lin. They didn't.