There’s no doubt that the Knicks want Jeremy Lin back next season (if only for his marketing value and also the fact that Knicks fans would be storming Dolan’s mansion with pitchforks if Lin isn’t re-signed) and there’s a very good chance that the Knicks will get their wish due to the “Gilbert Arenas” provision (http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q44), which limits other teams to the mid-level offer. However, there’s a chance that teams can back load the offer by increasing the third and fourth year of the deal significantly. (http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-am-can-the-knicks-get-steve-nash-3) If this happens, it makes it extremely difficult for the Knicks to keep Lin, because of the Knicks’ salary situation. For Jeremy’s sake, I hope another team that understands and respects Lin’s game and his being makes an offer the Knicks can’t match, because I think Lin’s development will be severely limited with the Knicks for a number of reasons that I will go into.
I know Jeremy is loyal to his team and teammates to a fault. But he shouldn’t feel like he owes the Knicks organization anything. What he has done for the Knicks organization, not to mention the NBA, is tremendously disproportionate to the opportunity that the Knicks gave him out of sheer desperation. There’s nothing more he needs to do for them.
I do like the Knicks and I like Jeremy. But I don’t trust this Knicks organization–especially if they’re thinking of bringing back Isaiah in any capacity. This is the genius that tweeted to trade Lin for Fisher. And they’ve had a history of making very poor management decisions that have been well documented, so I won’t dwell on it here. They just don’t seem like an organization that either knows how to or is interested in developing their players. Things may change for the better now that Grunwald is the GM, but Dolan is still at the helm.
Management is one thing, but the person that has the most influence over a player’s development is the coach. It looks like Mike Woodson will return as Knicks head coach. If this is the case, I don’t think he’s the right coach for Lin, but probably not for the reasons that have been touted. Yes, Woodson is known for his isolation-heavy offense and has a history of it. But I think during the year off of coaching, he had time to think about it and I think he knows that he needs to move away from his iso-heavy offense. We all witnessed a hint of this after he took over for D’Antoni and both Lin and Stat were playing with Melo. Woodson combined some iso, as well as pick-n-roll, spread the floor D’Antoni offense. Now, I’m not sure if this blend was because he had just taken over as Interim coach and didn’t have time to implement more of his offense. We will only know for sure next season. I think it may be unfair to judge his offense after Lin and Stat went out and he went back to an iso-heavy offense. I think it had more to do with necessity (i.e., they didn’t have anyone but Melo who could score consistently) than him enforcing his iso-heavy system full-force. But, again, we won’t know for sure until next season. If it turns out that Woodson hasn’t learned anything during his time off, as well as his experience in the first round with Miami, and sticks to an iso-heavy offense next season, then that’s not an offensive system that Jeremy Lin would thrive in. One evidence that does favor this scenario is that Woodson appears to favor Melo over all the other players on the team (with the exception of Chandler), so he may stick to an Iso-Melo offense. Under an Iso-Melo offense, Jeremy’s talents would be completely wasted and he would take a step back after making such great strides during Linsanity.
Even if it turns out that Woodson favors team-offense over Iso-Melo, I still think Woodson is not the right coach for Jeremy Lin, because of one very important reason. From what you’ve read so far, you may think I don’t like Woodson. But it’s not true, if you’ve read my previous posts, I actually think Woodson is a fine coach, because he knows how to communicate to his (star) players. Sure he has his faults and is still not a proven coach in the playoffs. But he was dealt a pretty bad hand during the first round with Miami–everything that could have possibly gone wrong for the Knicks did. However, the main issue I have with Woodson is that he has MAJOR trust issues with young players and this is the biggest reason why I think he would hold Jeremy back. He has this thing that he picked up from Red Holzman that young players should just sit, listen and learn. And it’s been ingrained in his DNA. He repeats this every chance he gets and it makes me want to rip his throat out every time. He says it like it’s some profound thing. But it’s a very shortsighted view of things and I think it’s made him make costly coaching decisions. He’ll trust players to a fault, simply because they are veterans, whereas any young player has to prove themselves time and time again regardless of how talented, wise, or knowledgeable about the game they are. This has caused him to play a Chandler, delirious from the flu in Game 1, rather than give a healthy Harrellson a chance. It’s also made him stick with a gimpy Baron Davis who makes terrible decisions on the court time and time again and takes bad shots over and over without consequence it seems. It’s also made him trust JR Smith, who also makes poor decisions, constantly fouling shooters at the three point line and taking bad shots and making bad passes time and time again. But he trusts these guys, simply because they’re veterans. “They’ve been tested” is another tired phrase that he repeats over and over again, like it’s some wise saying.
I think Woodson’s debilitating distrust of young players will be a problem for Lin no matter what type of offensive system he runs, because he won’t give Lin the respect that Lin deserves. Whenever I hear Woodson speak about Lin, there’s always this sense that Lin still has so much to learn. It’s very condescending. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lin does have a lot to learn (after all, he didn’t play the point guard position until he got to the NBA–a fact that escapes most people) and Lin knows he has a lot to learn. But I just don’t see Woodson giving Lin much respect, simply because Lin is a young player. I think that’s extremely shortsighted of Woodson. Okay, I get that experience is important. But every player is different. There’s plenty of veterans out there who don’t have wisdom and make poor decisions on the court (i.e., JR Smith). Yet Woodson trusts JR to a fault, simply because he’s a veteran. And he questions Lin, who has more wisdom than most veterans on and off the basketball court. It’s clear from the way Lin plays and the way he breaks down the game during post game interviews that he has a very high basketball IQ and understands the game from a very deep level.
Woodson speaks about Lin, as if he doesn’t recognize that Lin essentially saved the season, just like Melo saved the season in April for the Knicks. Woodson needs to recognize this and give Lin the level of respect Lin has earned. He talks about Lin as if he’s any other young player that needs to be taught so much about the game. The way Woodson talks about Lin disregards everything Lin has done for the Knicks. That’s what’s condescending and raises alarms for me about Woodson coaching Lin. This, above all else, is why I think staying with the Knicks under coach Woodson will hold Jeremy back. I feel like under Woodson, Lin will keep having to prove himself.
Lin is at his best when he is trusted to lead the offense in the same way that Chandler leads the defense on the court for the Knicks. But there’s no way that Woodson would let a young player take on that role. But that’s what Lin excels at. It’s part of his game. And this brings me to Melo. A lot of people have been talking abut Melo’s ability to play nice with his teammates. At first, I thought all this talk was over-hyped and didn’t really buy into all of it. Now I’m not so sure. I think he went into Iso-Melo mode late in the season because both Lin and Stat were out and he was the only consistent scorer. But he seemed to really relish it and he seems to really excel when he’s the only offensive option on the court. There’s nothing wrong with this, necessarily. It’s just the way he plays best. And Melo needs a group of guys around him who support this type of offense. Stat isn’t that supporting cast for Melo and neither is Jeremy. That’s why the whole thing has been such a struggle and Knicks management is to blame, not the players. Not Melo. Not Stat. Not Lin. Not even the coach.
Jeremy Lin’s talents would go to waste alongside Melo, because they essentially play similar roles. Okay, I get that they play different positions, but they’re both guys who are comfortable shooting from anywhere and driving to the lane. The only difference is that Lin is also looking to pass when he drives into traffic, whereas Melo is primarily looking to score. Again, no knock on Melo. That’s just the way he plays. He’s a talented and prolific scorer. A scorer who doesn’t need an aggressive Point Guard. Melo just needs someone to pass him the ball and stay in the perimeter so he can pass it out if he gets double-teamed. It’s more important that Melo’s point guard can shoot rather than drive and create. So that’s another reason why I think staying with the Knicks would hold Jeremy back. Playing with Melo would limit his opportunities to do what he does best, which is to explode to the basket and create for himself or for his teammates, depending on what the defense gives him.
Finally, Woodson’s primary job on the offensive end, or at least the thing he will be most focused on during training camp is to resolve the whole debate on whether or not Melo and Stat can coexist. Lin is that answer for Woodson. So under Woodson, Lin’s primary (if not sole) job would be to help solve the whole “can Melo and Stat” coexist debate. So all Woodson wants for Lin to do is become almost purely a passer and give Stat and Melo the ball where they like it. However, Lin is at his best when he’s creating ALMOST EQUALLY for himself and his teammates. He’s not a traditional point guard who is purely a passer. He’s also a very talented scorer, as I’ve mentioned. But Woodson would train the scorer out of Lin and Woodson would be right to do so. Turning Lin into almost purely a passer might be GOOD for the Knicks, but not good for Lin’s development. You combine Woodson’s core objective on the offensive end (i.e., resolving the Melo/Stat co-existing debate), Woodson’s love of superstars, Woodson’s distrust of young players, Woodson’s lack of adequate respect for Lin (that’s proportional to what Lin has done for the Knicks) and it’s not hard to see that Lin’s talents will go to waste staying with Woodson/Melo Knicks.
I would love to see Lin with the Knicks for my own selfish reasons, since I enjoy rooting for Lin and the Knicks. I actually enjoy watching all of the Knicks players. Every single one of them is enjoyable to watch–with the exception of Baron Davis. And I’m also a big fan of Chandler, Shump and Novak. But Lin should find a coach and organization that respects Lin’s game and his being. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s with the Knicks. If Lin does end up with the Knicks, which is very likely, then he should not sign a multi-year contract.
I think Lin needs to go to a place where he can be trusted to run the offense on the floor. Jeremy Lin is a rare point guard who is also a talented scorer. So he needs to go to a place where he’s one of the primary scoring options. If D Williams leaves the Nets, then that’s a team that comes to mind. However, I admittedly don’t know anything about the coach there, so can’t say for sure if it’s the right place for Lin. The advantage is that he’ll be able to stay in New York–a big media market. Lin may also benefit from going to a team that’s in a re-building phase, such as the Portland Trailblazers or even the Bobcats. Sure, he won’t be contending for a title, but at least he’ll be able to develop his game and keep improving as a player, which is more important for him now than getting rings.
I’m confident that with Lin’s support network of family and friends, as well his own wisdom and intelligence, Lin will come to the same conclusion and do everything in his power to avoid signing with the Knicks. I hope this is why he has been so hesitant about his future with the Knicks during interviews.
In my ideal world, Lin, Chandler, Novak, and Shump would be in a team without Melo and Woodson. Again, not hating on Melo or Woodson. It’s more about the chemistry of the players. Everyone is talented in their own right, but it’s the right combinations of players that’s crucial for a team to compete for a ring and this is what the Knicks organization seem to fail at time and time again.
Side Note: Perhaps my worst fear would be for Lin to feel like he owes D’Antoni something and joins D’Antoni for a number of reasons. Sure, D’Antoni’s system is a dream for point guards of Lin’s caliber, because it allows him the freedom to create. I think that’s great, but I just have zero respect for D’Antoni as a coach, so I don’t think Lin will get much out of the relationship, whereas D’Antoni will get everything. This is an oversimplification, but I see D’Antoni as a very lazy coach that just sits back, tells his guys to spread the floor and has his point guard do all the work for him. This way, he doesn’t have to run any actual plays. All he needs is a talented point guard and players to buy completely into a spread offense and voila!
To me, this is not good coaching. D’Antoni misses many aspects of the game and I’ve pointed out in my previous posts his blatant substitution and timeout mistakes during games. More importantly, he can’t get his players to play defense or do all the little things that wins games, such has dive for loose balls, rebound, etc. And the reason he can’t get players to do these things is because of his main weakness, which is his inability to communicate and motivate his players. He’s too laid back to energize his players.
From his post game interviews, I don’t get any confidence that he knows the game on a deep level. He doesn’t understand the psychology of the game and can’t make adjustments. How can he make adjustments when his only tool is to spread the floor and have the point guard do all the work? This is why the Knicks had such terrible 3rd quarters under D’Antoni. Opposing coaches would make adjustments at halftime, whereas D’Antoni has nothing to adjust, because he only has one tool. And while his offense gives the point guard a lot of freedom to maneuver, it leaves the point guard extremely vulnerable, because the defense knows that all you have to do is take out the point guard. In that sense, D’Antoni’s offense is very predictable, so a talented defensive team like Miami can exploit it.
Aside from this, the biggest reason why I don’t want Lin to go with D’Antoni is because if he does well, everyone will keep saying that Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system. So, again, his accomplishments will be discounted. I don’t buy that Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system. Even Nash, who was coached by D’Antoni, went out of his way during Linsanity to disagree with most analysts, saying that Lin isn’t a product of D’Antoni’s system. Lin is a hyper-aggressive point guard who is talented and comfortable scoring the ball from anywhere on the court and has the ability to explode to the lane to create for himself or his teammates depending on what the defense gives him. So, yeah, Lin benefits from a spread offense. So if that’s what people mean, then they need to say that. But I think whenever they say Lin is a product of D’Antoni’s system, it sounds as if they’re discounting Lin’s talents. That Lin is a one-dimensional guard that can only play under D’Antoni. And there’s nothing further from the truth. But if Lin sticks with D’Antoni, this myth will follow him through his young career. In other words, you don’t hear anyone saying Nash is a product of D’Antoni’s system, do you?