The Knicks began their season 8-15 with Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert playing point guard. Baron Davis was signed to be the starting point guard, but an injury prevented him from reaching the starting lineup.
Then Linsanity took over and Jeremy Lin helped the Knicks win seven straight games to get back to .500 but those victories came against mostly non-playoff contenders. The Knicks were 18-18 entering the month of March, but suffered a six-game losing streak when Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire returned to the starting lineup.
“I think it’s because they play different styles of basketball,” said ESPN New York’s Ian Begley. “Jeremy Lin was predicated on ball movement and finding his teammates in open spots and what Carmelo Anthony did well last year was play well in isolation situations. Those two styles don’t really mix and with Amare Stoudemire it was kind of a different set of circumstances. He seemed to be dealing with one issue after another throughout the course of the season and it affected him on the floor.”
“It also hurt that the Knicks didn’t have a point guard for the first six weeks of the season,” Begley added. Then when Jeremy Lin emerged, Amare was hurt and he never really got the opportunity to develop the chemistry to develop the pick-and-roll that many people thought they would.”
After the Knicks’ sixth straight loss, they fired Mike D’Antoni and replaced him with Mike Woodson who switched the offense to benefit Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire’s isolation games. The Knicks would win six of their next seven and then Linsanity would come to an end as he was unable to play the rest of the season because of a torn meniscus.
People still debate whether Linsanity could’ve came back and played in the playoffs. They believe he didn’t play because he didn’t want to risk losing money when he became a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
“If you’re a Knicks fan, you have to be happy about just the fact that he turned their whole season around and was able to get them on the course to make the playoffs and ultimately the franchise won its first playoff game in ten years,” Begley said. “What the Knicks’ decision to let Lin go came down to was money. They didn’t think he was a $15 million-per-year player and that’s what they would’ve had to pay him in year three of the contract that he signed with the Houston Rockets. They just weren’t convinced that he would develop into that kind of player.”
With the Houston Rockets, Linsanity can start over and Lin can be the main superstar on the team. Kevin Martin is the only superstar left and he has one year left on his contract.
“He’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot, so I certainly think he’ll have the opportunity to put up similar numbers as the ones he did when he was in New York,” Begley said. “Now whether he’ll be able to do that in practice remains to be seen, but I think the opportunity will be there for him to put those numbers up because he’s going to be hammering the ball.
“If you look at that roster there’s not much in terms of other guys who can handle it the way he is capable of,” Begley added. “If you don’t watch every Rockets’ game next season and you just look at Jeremy Lin’s stats, you might be somewhat upset if you’re a Knicks fan because I think his numbers will be pretty good, but I don’t know that he’ll be able to play with the efficiency that he did last season.”
As for the success the Knicks will have this season, the pressure is now on Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd to direct the offense. Felton struggled last year in Portland and Kidd is 39 years old.
“It depends on how well the Knicks’ point guards can figure things out and how much Mike Woodson decides to use Carmelo Anthony both in the isolation and at the power forward spot.” Begley said.