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NBA@2: Jeremy Lin’s Moment Of Truth
Posted By Bill Ingram On July 17, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
One of the best stories of the 2011-12 NBA season, other than the fact that we actually had a season, was the rags-to-riches story of Jeremy Lin. In a manner that will no doubt inspire a Disney movie, Lin took the NBA by storm after a strange set of circumstances landed him in the New York Knicks’ starting lineup. After failing to catch on with the Golden State Warriors, LA Lakers or Houston Rockets, Lin started 25 games for the Knicks, averaging 18.2 points and 7.7 assists while shooting 45% from the floor.
Jeremy was “Linsational,” “Super Lintendo,” “Linderella,” “Lincredible” . . .and, of course, it was all described as “Linsanity.”
As a direct result of Lin’s brilliant play, the Knicks made the playoffs, though an injury prevented Lin himself from participating.
Here’s the rub. Not to take anything away from what Lin accomplished, but he did it as a player whom the NBA had not scouted, and was largely unfamiliar with. After he had made it around the league a little bit, teams started to prepare for him, and none better than the Miami HEAT. On February 23rd, the last night of action before the All-Star break, Lin managed just eight points and committed eight turnovers against the HEAT, who had scouted him so well that it looked like they knew exactly where he would take his next step.
The more Lin played, the less “Lintastic” he was, though he was still quite good. After averaging 20.9 points, 8.4 assists and shooting 47% from the field, Lin came down to earth a bit in March, averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 assists while shooting just under 41% from the field.
Of course, as a player on a short-term deal, the question then became what Lin could make in the open market based on an attention-grabbing performance in a system known to inflate numbers. The Knicks let it be known that they would match any offers made to their restricted free agent, but when the Houston Rockets tested their resolve the Knicks hesitated.
While waiting for the Rockets to find them and present their offer sheet to Lin, the Knicks have seemingly moved on. They first signed Jason Kidd, who was believed to be brought in to help mentor Lin as next season’s starter, but the additional acquisition of Raymond Felton would seem to indicate that the Knicks will let the Rockets have Lin, even as Knicks fans feverishly work to get signatures on petitions begging their team to match.
So where does all of this leave Jeremy Lin?
First of all, Lin is now a professional basketball player with a three-year contract, regardless of anything else. He has gone from someone who was on the outside looking in to someone who has guaranteed money coming his way . . .and a great deal of money, at that. Even Carmelo Anthony called Houston’s contract offer, worth roughly $25 million, “ridiculous.” No matter what else happens, Jeremy Lin is going to get PAID.
Now it’s up to Jeremy Lin to live up to his hype and establish his legacy. He is already a source of inspiration for millions of kids who have been passed over at some point in their lives. He’s the poster child for the old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But can Lin do consistently in Houston what he did briefly in New York?
Someone’s going to deeply regret the decision made about Jeremy Lin, whether it’s Houston regretting the contract or New York regretting that they didn’t match.
It will be Jeremy Lin’s job to make sure it is the Knicks, not the Rockets, who do the regretting. After all, the way Disney ends these things, Lin has to become an All-Star and lead the Rockets to multiple NBA championships.
That may be a bit too Disney, but the Rockets are dreaming of nothing less.
Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineup Set?
All talk of Dwight Howard landing in Brooklyn has officially died off, and with that in mind the Nets are busily putting together their team for next season. They have already taken care of Gerald Wallace, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, so now they’re setting their sights on one of the unsung heroes of the team.
Kris Humphries may have taken some undue criticism for the silliness of his wife’s reality TV show, but make no mistake about it, Humphries is one of the better unheralded players in the NBA. Last year was the best of his NBA career, with Humphries averaging 13.8 points and 11.0 rebounds while appearing in all 62 games for the injury-riddled Nets.
It’s very possible that Humphries will turn out to be the Nets’ best rebounder, which will be especially important given Lopez’s lack of rebounding.
Every championship team needs its x-factor players, and make no mistake about it, the Nets expect to be contenders in 2012-13. You don’t spend as much money as the Nets have spent this offseason without setting expectations at the highest possible peak. As important as Lopez, Joe Johnson, Williams and Wallace will be, Kris Humphries will absolutely have a significant role to play in any success the Nets have.
Humphries is set to sign a two-year deal with the Nets worth a reported $24 million, making Brooklyn’s likely opening night starting lineup: Lopez, Humphries, Wallace, Johnson and Williams.
Mavericks Rounding Into Shape
Not too many days ago, Dallas Mavericks fans were starting to despair just a little bit. On paper, the Mavericks were less than impressive; having cleared out every piece of cap space they could in an all-or-nothing bid to land Deron Williams in free agency, the Mavericks looked a lot more like nothing.
The team is still a far cry from the championship team they were two seasons ago, but recent moves have at least put them back in the playoff discussion.
Say what you want about Chris Kaman, but the nine-year pro is a solid starting center and a consistent double-double threat. He has also spent some time playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki on the German national team. By adding Kaman the Mavs were able to use their one-time amnesty cut on Brendan Haywood, who never played as well as he did during the end of his contract year when he was first traded to Dallas. Kaman is no Tyson Chandler, but he is certainly a big step up from Haywood.
The latest addition to the team may be the most interesting. The Mavericks signed the much sought after OJ Mayo to a two-year deal, effectively replacing sixth-man Jason Terry. Like Terry, Mayo is a very capable starter, but is also willing to bide his time on the pine, should Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle opt to start Vince Carter.
The point guard position will be interesting, with Darren Collison looking to prove his rookie season in New Orleans wasn’t a fluke. Collison played so well in Chris Paul’s absence that the Indiana Pacers saw him as their long-term solution at the point, but last season he struggled and was eventually supplanted by George Hill. Now Collison needs to show that he was no fluke, and if he can do that in Dallas he just might find a permanent home with the Mavs.
Finally, Elton Brand will be an interesting addition for Dallas. He’s certainly beyond his prime, but as a back-up to Nowitzki, Brand still has plenty to offer.
Even with these recent moves, the Mavericks are a far cry from a contending team. They will likely make the playoffs, but even that isn’t a foregone conclusion with so many Western Conference teams improving this summer. Still, for a team that had its fans in panic mode a few days ago, the Mavericks are starting to look like a team that has a reasonable shot at notching 50 wins again next season.
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