OPINION: It looks like Linsanity has ended its run in New York.
Just months after Jeremy Lin became one of the biggest names in basketball with his fairy-tale run at Madison Square Garden, the point guard will be packing his bags for Houston.
It is another reminder to athletes, franchises and fans that there is no room for sentiment in professional sport (something Sonny Bill Williams certainly seems to appreciate).
The Asian point guard became an international sensation after taking his chances for the New York Knicks. He led them to seven successive wins in February, scoring 20 points in nine of 10 games during that stretch.
All this after being cut twice by teams in the pre-season, ironically including the Houston Rockets, and playing D-League ball before getting the callup from the injury-hit Knicks.
The Knicks repeatedly said they would match any offer from Houston for Lin but the third-year poison pill in the contract offer from the Rockets made it almost impossible for them to swallow. Houston offered Lin US$5 million (NZ$6.28m) for each of his first two years and then a third year of US$14 million. New York would be forced to pay luxury tax for that third year, bringing their total bill for Lin to more than US$30 million for the 2014/15 season.
As Lin is a restricted free agent the Knicks have until tomorrow to match the offer.
Lin is a good player who sells a lot of jerseys, and New York have the resources to match the offer, but it seems unlikely. They tipped their hand with the signing of Raymond Felton to back up Jason Kidd. It looks like it could be a case of the Harvard grad being a little too smart for his own good.
The New York Post reported that part of the reason the Knicks were happy to cut him loose was that they believe he was disloyal. They had been ready to match Houston's original offer and told Lin so. He immediately told Houston and then flew to Las Vegas to renegotiate the offer, which came in considerably higher.
Presumably Lin did this on the assumption that New York would once again match Houston's offer and he would stay put with more money. It seems he thought wrong.
New York is a bigger media market, a better place to live and has a team more likely to challenge for a title.
So while he will be up by US$6 million, he would have been better off staying put, where he could have learnt from one of the best point guards (Kidd) to play the game. Millionaire team owners don't like to be played for fools, so now Lin will only be making guest appearances on the New York stage.
Kidd is one of several notable players nearing the end of their careers who have moved in the hopes of bagging one more championship.
It's a time when being a contender becomes more important than money. So Kidd and Jason Terry (to Boston) have both ditched Dallas, Steve Nash has signed on with the Lakers and Ray Allen has joined LeBron James in Miami.
Only time will tell who made the right move, but Allen's move to Boston's loathed rivals in the east will add spice next season. Celtics big man Kevin Garnett is renowned as the biggest trash-talker in the game and Allen can expect a fierce reception when he returns.
- Phil Hamilton is a former Press journalist now living in the United States.
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