The backlash that came out of New York this week regarding Jeremy's Lin contract was nothing short of "ridiculous." Even more so was the mentality that, as of yet, Lin hadn't proven anything, he of the 25-game resume just weeks after jumping off his brother's couch. The terms of his Rockets contract does give one pause when observing the pay hike Lin will receive in year three. The Ivy Leaguer is set to make an intial $5 million, then $5.225 million in the second year, and a perplexing $14.8 million at the back end of the contract. But when looking at the overall package of $25.1 million for three years, it's not exactly the kind of number that's offending the market.
The balloon payment due to Lin when year three rolls around is a little bit fuzzy. The term "ridiculous" was thrown out by former teammate Carmelo Anthony, who failed to mince words when asked about the terms of the deal last weekend. In Anthony's defense, the Rockets do look bad in the way they structured the numbers, angering the Knicks by making it financially difficult for them to justify a match. The third-year jump doesn't make sense, and it seems as though Houston was trying to pull off some last-minute hijinks in an aggressive attempt to hinder New York's efforts.
Putting the contract aside for a moment, the "ridiculous" comments stating that Lin hasn't earned such money is teetering on the absurd. This kind of talk wasn't being bantered about even a week ago, when it appeared that matching Lin's deal was a mere formality for New York. Then the weekend came and things got crazy, matching the dialouge that permeated the sports talk radio waves over the next 72 hours. The same media who ripped the Rockets for whiffing on Lin the first time was now lambasting their offer.
Is the third year ridiculous? Oh yeah. There's no question that Houston pulled one over, and did so at the expense of ensuring good-faith dealings with clubs in the future. General managers around the league see what the Rockets did and find it to be an unsavory way to do business. But to act like Lin doesn't deserve the total package he was signed to is somewhat laughable. If one had any sort of basketball intelligence, you would know that Lin's performance last year wasn't an abberation. To accuse the Rockets of an impulsive buy is ill-informed, especially when you consider that the Cavs picked Kyrie Irving #1 after an eleven-game college career.
The idea that Lin was going to break the bank for a franchise dealing with salary cap issues is also far-fetched. Again, the third-year money is problematic. But Lin's final year doesn't push the Knicks towards economic instability; they're already there. NBA writer Steve Aschburner tweeted this on Monday morning: "Blaming Jeremy Lin for luxury tax issues in NY = six bigger guys in an elevator ripping skinny seventh guy who boards last, trips buzzer." The Knicks have had bad contracts since Isiah left town, so it's difficult to blame your potential cap problems on one Jeremy Lin.
The Knicks lost their point guard because they took a nonchalant approach in wooing him. Something went down early that rubbed Lin the wrong way, and it was obvious from the start that things could get testy. Despite New York's claims that retaining him was imminent, it wasn't, and now Houston has their own chance to capitilize on the Linsanity. This thing blows up even more in China now, with Yao Ming himself still revered as a folk hero in that country. What remains to be seen is what kind of pieces the Rockets can surround Lin with, and whether or not that will be good enough to hang with the boys out West.