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It's official: Houston Rockets have gone Linsane

Publication Date : 19-07-2012


James Dolan, the New York Knicks owner famous for lavishing big bucks on players, made it official yesterday that Linsanity was leaving on a first-class ticket to Texas.

Jeremy Lin will no longer be sporting his blue and orange jersey in Madison Square Garden (MSG) in the upcoming season, but instead the red and white of the Houston Rockets. In addition, he will have buckets of cash and a secured three years of professional basketball under contract.

The Knicks first confirmed with Lin they would not match Houston's offer via telephone yesterday before it became official. “Extremely excited and honoured to be a Houston Rocket again!” Lin posted on his Twitter account, ending all speculation that has been running rampant over the past few weeks. The results, however, may lead to some anxiety of their own.

According to sources, Dolan felt cheated when Lin came back with Houston's venomous three-year, US$25 million offer after the Knicks publicly announced they will match the prior four-year, $28.8 million deal. The Knicks responded by avoiding comments and acquiring Raymond Felton, possibly chucking any salary room for Lin under the salary cap. Numbers show that Felton did not deliver as well as Lin in the last season, although Lin only played 35 games while Felton was in 60.

The sweetened deal consists of $5 million for the first year, $5.225 million in the second, and balloons to $14.8 million in the third. The third year was an attempt swipe away the Knicks' matching of the deal, often referred to as a “poison pill.” That third year would cost the Knicks a tremendous luxury tax penalty in the 2014-15 season as their committed salary to top players already borders the luxury tax threshold.

It was up to the Knicks to decide if their aspiring point guard of sudden stardom was worth so much green. Though most critics concluded the Knicks would not match, Dolan's history of overpaying his players allowed a glimmer of hope that he would keep the Linsanity franchise running in the Garden. He is especially known for flaunting a disregard of the luxury tax after going $62.3 million over the tax line in 2005. In the end, Linsanity went down the drain as quick as it swept over the Garden.

What Linsanity meant to markets

Thus far in the short-lived franchise, Linsanity has rallied MSG stock prices, boosting merchandise, advertisements, television ratings and selling out tickets. His market value was so explosive, even NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted he's “never quite seen anything like” the attention thrust upon Lin.

Lin's fandom expanded as he won the fans over not only with his astonishing performance, but with his humbleness and gratitude. In commenting on his departure, he tweeted: “Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support the past year...easily the best year of my life.”

There are very mixed opinions on Jeremy Lin's departure as he packs his bags for Texas. While some critics may say Lin's non-playoffs experience poses a threat to such lucrative a deal, some think his market price was well worth the gamble.

According to Nate Silver from The New York Times, MSG stock lost about $50 million in market value on the mere possibility of Lin's departure on Monday. He noted that this was “roughly as much as the salary and luxury tax that the Knicks would need” to pay to keep Linsanity buzzing in the Garden for the next few years.

Sports critics are also showing faith in the elite point guard, betting on his even grander performance in the upcoming season. Ian O'Conner from stated, “There's no good reason to believe that Lin, a better player than Felton last year, won't be a better player than Felton next year and beyond.”

Other critics remain doubtful, stating that Lin's performance was simply too short-lived to tell if he is really All-Star material.

Lin played in 35 games before becoming exhausted over a knee surgery that sidelined him for six weeks. ESPN writer Stephen A. Smith noted that his inexperience could have cost the Knicks more than what they asked for, in a bad way. “Pay him now, and he may ultimately cost them more than $30 million later,” he said. Only the upcoming season will tell if Lin can truly rocket to greatness.


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