Lin, the 23-year old former Harvard point guard, transformed overnight from a NBA Developmental League prospect to overnight media sensation and on the cover of “Page Six” in New York.
Thanks to his flashy play and flair for dramatics, Lin became a cultural phenomenon that would spawn “Lin-sanity”, a revival of basketball in New York and the third-most jersey sales in the NBA. Lin would single-handily spawn media hype and ratings not seen in the NBA since Michael Jordan in his heyday in Chicago. Lin would be named “Breakthrough Athlete” at the 2012 ESPY’s
In the end, it all came down to whether or not Lin was worth $30 million, as the Knicks would owe Lin $14.5 million in 2014-15 and incur a $15 million dollar luxury tax. While the Knicks are grateful for all Lin would do for them in helping raise TV ratings, merchandising and marketing, this was a business decision—and a smart one at that for the Knicks.
In 25 starts for the Knicks, Lin averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 assists while shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 79.8 percent from the free-thrown line and 33 percent from three-point range in 26.9 minutes.
Lin, who averaged 3.6 turnovers for the Knicks, returns to the Rockets—who cut him before being picked up by the Knicks.
The Rockets would lose shooting guard Goran Dragic, power forward Luis Scola to the Phoenix Suns and trade point guard Kyle Lowry go to the Toronto Raptors. Houston would also deal starting center Samuel Dalembert to the Milwaukee Bucks for Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman, Shaun Livingston and the 12th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Based on projections, Lin and Kevin Martin would be in the Houston backcourt with first round draft pick in Royce White at power forward, Chandler Parsons at small forward and Omir Asik–pending the Bulls decision to match the Rockets offer sheet–at center.
And then there is the remote possibility of landing disgruntled Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
In Houston, Lin would also have the opportunity to emerge as a leader of a much younger team that has three first round picks in Jeremy Lamb, White and Terrance Jones and a crop of young talent in Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris, Patrick Petterson to help build around.
If there is a blessing in disguise for Lin, is that he will not have the distractions and media hoopla that he had to face in the Big Apple.
While Lin will not have the burden of playing in the media capital of the world, he may have to deal with playing in the shadow of the most famous Asian basketball player in NBA history—Yao Ming.
After playing on the hardwood of “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and bring some much-needed buzz to the self-proclaimed basketball mecca of the world, Ming’s shadow will be a mere afterthought in H-town.
Robert D. Cobb is the NBA Network Manager for Rant Media Network, Featured Writer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Featured Columnist for the Cleveland Browns and Arsenal Gunners.
In addition to covering the NBA, I also cover MLB, NFL, NHL and Champions League soccer news, rumors and opinions, please follow me on Twitter at @RobertCobb_76