I’ve been way too excited and hyped up all day to write a post about Jeremy Lin going to the Nets, which Lin announced on his Twitter at around 7AM (I think) today, using a graphic image created by a graphic designer, who’s also a huge Nets fan @.
But, as a Lin fan, this news is way too important for me to not write about, so I’m forcing myself to gather my thoughts and write something which will surely fall short of the moment.
Ever since I heard Atkinson’s press conference with the Nets when he was hired as head coach, I have felt that Jeremy Lin is destined to join the Nets. I wrote this post on May 16th outlining all the coincidences that link Lin with the BrookLin Nets. Most recently, I wrote this post reassuring fans that Nets is still my top pick for Lin, despite them trading away Thad Young, their second best player. And on Twitter, I’ve been solely fixated on Lin going to the Nets. I’ve pretty much ignored all the rumors and talk about him reuniting with MDA and the Rox and didn’t really entertain Lin going anywhere else, because for me Nets was by far the best choice. I’m sure some Lin fans got annoyed with my over-fixation of Lin joining the Nets. Pretty recently (June 28th), I tweeted this out to express my total fixation for Lin going to the Nets:
I’ve also been harassing Jeremy Lin periodically on Twitter to join the Nets, because I feel it is the place where he will finally find a home. Most recently on June 30th, I sent him this tweet.
The reason I bring up my previous articles and tweets is to hopefully give you an idea of how thrilled I am that something I have been fixated on in my mind has become reality. Because there are really no words I can use to adequately express how I feel about this news. I guess to me, Lin choosing the Nets is an indication that I really do understand his motivations, etc. I guess after writing about him since 2012, it would have been disheartening if he chose to join, say the Rockets, because that would tell me that I really don’t know how Lin thinks, etc. I’ve been so fixated on the Nets, because to me, if I was Lin the Nets is an obvious choice, because it checks off so many boxes. After writing about Lin for over 4 years, it’s nice to know that I do have a clue what he’s thinking.
I highly doubt Lin sees any of my tweets, but I’m so thrilled that he ended up not surprising me and picking the most obvious choice for him. The gravy on top for me is that Lin and his team structured pretty much exactly the type of contract I would have wanted him to structure. Lin has reportedly agreed to a three-year $36M contract with the Nets with a player option in the 3rd year. Once Lin FINALLY gets to start at PG and run the offense for an entire season, people will realize that $12M for Lin is an absolute steal. Lin probably could have gotten more money, but $12M was exactly what I expected him to get, even though he’ll outplay his contract significantly.
I congratulate Lin’s team on getting the player option for the 3rd year. This is what I was hoping they’d be able to do, but wasn’t sure teams would go for it, knowing that salaries are going to take another hike up next season. The player option in the 3rd year is really smart, because that way, Lin avoids tough Point Guard competition in next year’s free agency when you have superstar Free Agent Point Guards, such as Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, etc.
Even though I’m confident Lin will be considered a max or near max player by next year, it’s risky becoming a free agent next year if Lin has an opt out option for his 2nd year. Instead, Lin will be able to opt out the year after that when the FA competition won’t be as tough. To me, the max Lin realistically could have gotten is $15M per year, but I prefer the 3rd year player option to a straight $15M per year for three years for a number of reasons. For example, if Lin is considered a max or close to max player, Lin will most likely make up the difference in the 3rd year. Also, from a perception standpoint, it’ll be better for Lin to structure a new contract with a per year amount that is significantly higher than $15M in the 3rd year. I know that probably sounds a little complicated, but I don’t really want drag this post down by talking about contracts. I just wanted to express how I think the contract Lin’s team structured is the best they could have done, because of the very critical 3rd year player option. I know lots of Lin fans are disappointed at the $12M per year. But when you look at the contract in a little more detail, it’s actually an excellent contract and, to me, it’s ideal given reality. There are also bonuses and other such things that I think make the contract even more attractive. So overall, I’m actually very satisfied with the contract. Kudos to Jeremy Lin and his team!
The way the contract is structured also tells me that the Nets (Atkinson/Marks) are showing Lin a lot of respect and this tells me that they really want Lin. I heard rumors that Lin also got an offer from the Bulls, but the Bulls weren’t willing to give him a three-year contract, seeing Lin as more of a stop-gap measure than a long-term option. The fact that Nets agreed to a three-year contract says that they’re serious about Lin. But to me, the player option and bonuses tells me that they realize Lin is under-valued and these things give Lin the ability to eventually get paid his worth. Teams know that salaries will take another hike next year, so it’s not in their interest to give player options. But they wanted Lin so much that they gave Lin the player option and bonuses. In other words, they gave Lin a fair contract, rather than try to low-ball Lin, which shows respect and shows that Lin was their top one or two pick in free agency, as I suspected all along.
I think the driving force behind getting Lin to join the Nets is Atkinson. Some Lin fans weren’t sure what to make of Atkinson, since Atkinson hasn’t made many statements about Lin, apart from when he and Lin were with the Knicks during Linsanity in 2012. Well, I think it says a lot for Atkinson to choose Jeremy Lin as his starting point guard in his first gig as a head coach. This confirms something I’ve felt all along: that Atkinson really believes in what Lin is capable of and, thus, will allow Lin to run the offense. And this is a big reason why I’ve been so fixated on Lin joining the Nets.
For Lin fans, it’s been a long and arduous journey ever since Linsanity back in 2012. Lin has the misfortune of being with the worst teammates in the NBA in Melo, Harden, Kobe, etc. and the worst coaches in McHale and Byron Scott (both fired). He’s been forced to play out of position and been forced to play to his weaknesses, rather than to his strengths by coaches and GMs who care more about appeasing egos than winning games.
I see Atkinson and Marks as a coach and GM who cares more about winning games than playing politics. Who care more about finding under-rated players than just going for the big names, just for the sake of collecting big names haphazardly. Atkinson and Marks want to build the team the right way by taking their time finding under-rated talent with high-character and unselfishness. I know a lot of Lin fans may be concerned that the Nets lack a talented roster. But I think it’s too early to judge the Nets’s roster now. For me, it’s actually more important to build a team that fits well together and has good chemistry (unselfish, high-character) than a team loaded with talent. And I’m sure Jeremy Lin feels the same way. The culture that Atkinson/Marks want to build is exactly the culture that Lin wants to build and exactly the type of culture in which Lin thrives. This is why I’ve been so adamant that Lin will finally find a home with the Nets.
After years of having to defer to other players and being forced to stand in the corner, waiting for a ball that never gets to him, Lin is finally free to play his game for an entire season, not just when his teammates are injured. There’s a stat, courtesy of @Tonnny2012, that I have pinned on my Twitter account. It shows that in 33 games without Melo, Harden, Kemba and Batum, Jeremy Lin averages 20.4 points, 6.4 assists and has a 70% win rate. Here’s the raw data:
This tells me that Lin is capable of putting up superstar numbers and winning games. And the only thing that has stopped Linsanity since 2012 are selfish teammates and awful coaches who have forced Lin to play to Lin’s weakness, rather than his strengths. Lin is only allowed to play to his strengths when “superstars” are injured. Linsanity was borne out of desperation and since then, only happens out of desperation.
A lot of articles talking about Lin’s return to NY are very quick to make sure to mention that Lin won’t be able to bring back Linsanity, basically implying that Linsanity was a fluke. And that tells me that sports writers and such still don’t have a clue about what Jeremy Lin has been through ever since Linsanity. He’s actually significantly more skilled, mentally stronger and overall a much better player than he was during Linsanity. Lin just hasn’t had the opportunity to play to his strengths since Linsanity. But Lin has made the most of the limited/inconsistent minutes/usage that he’s been given. What is exciting for Lin fans is that BrookLin potentially presents the first opportunity since Linsanity for Lin to FINALLY be given the consistent minutes and usage that will allow Lin to finally show what he can do. Linsanity is actually the norm for Lin, it’s the entire period ever since Linsanity that is the fluke. By next year, even these uninformed sports writers will realize this.
Because Lin hasn’t been given a fair shake in his basketball career, based in large part on the way he looks, Lin continuously has to prove himself against tremendous obstacles. Back in 2012, I wrote a long article attempting to help people break through their preconceptions of Lin. Here’s a relevant excerpt:
“For those who are sincerely interested in going beyond their biases, but still somehow can’t, let me help make things easier on you. I’ll attempt to lift the blind fold by having you do a mental exercise. If Jeremy Lin hadn’t been partly discriminated against when he graduated high school. A good basketball program would have picked him up, based on his high school performance (e.g., leading his school to a State Championship). If he had gotten into a good college basketball program, like he deserved to be, he would have been drafted, maybe even in the first round. Had he been drafted in the first round, he wouldn’t have been sitting at the end of the benched or been passed from one NBA team to another. Or we can forget this entire alternative scenario and just think about how if NBA scouts had looked at Lin’s stats in college in an objective way (i.e., the way Ed Weiland did) and picked him very early in the draft based on the conclusion that he was one of the best college players in 2010, then Jeremy Lin would have immediately been validated as some sort of prodigy. I mean, only prodigies get picked that early in the draft, coming out of a no-name basketball program, right? This guy must be out of this world good! Expectations of Lin would have been pretty high from the get go. If all of this had been the case, then anyone would feel silly for continually questioning what he has done and keep wanting more and more proof if he’s for real. Or still calling him “average” even at the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Instead, people would point to Jeremy Lin’s performance as clear evidence of why he got picked in the first round and, moreover, they’ll take the 26-game sample size and extrapolate it out into the future and say that Lin will become one of the best point guards in the league. I mean, there’s clear evidence. He’s already surpassed all-time great point guards in his first 7 starts? What more evidence do you want?”
My hope is that BrookLin will finally give Lin the opportunity to finally open everyone’s eyes to what he is capable of. Being a Lin fan, it feels a little like you’re surrounded by people who think the world is flat and look at you like you’re the insane one. By next year, people will realize that Lin fans aren’t the insane ones, although they’ll never admit it publicly.