Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Will Jeremy Lin & Mike Woodson Return to New York Knicks?
During this season's NBA playoffs, the Knicks received a bit of Deja Vu when two of their best players sat out with various injuries. Jeremy Lin (knee injury) and Amar'e Stoudemire (hand) both missed game(s) this postseason, preventing New York from making much noise for the second straight season.
Injuries surely don't help things, but there's still no doubt interim Coach Mike Woodson did a worthy enough job leading his team through certain adversities during the regular season. Not only did he take the reigns of the Knicks during a turbulent time in the Big Apple, but Coach Woodson altered the team's culture for the better as he forced players to take responsibility for their actions on and off the court. Asserting such authority resulted in the Knicks' elevating their play as a unit.
In fact, it only took Coach Woodson twenty four games to rack up 18 wins. It took his predecessor, former coach Mike D'Antoni, fourty-two games to lead the team to the same amount of wins.
Woodson's success and demeanor (playoff win or no playoff win) have impressed the Knicks enough to start hammering out the details of a contract that would keep him in New York as the team's official head coach, according to Al Iannazone of Newsday.
Woodson's offense, of course, runs through Carmelo Anthony, as the forward thrives in isolation. With that recognized, will Jeremy Lin, the point guard who emerged as brief savior in New York while running Coach D'Antoni's offense instead, be returning alongside the new coach?
Whereas things look especially promising for Woodson to return to the Knicks and continue building something special, the same certainty cannot yet be expressed when talking about Lin.
According to Lin's agent, nothing is set in stone. He and Lin plan to explore all various options, including one that is expected to present itself with the Toronto Raptors. Though the Knicks are in fact able to match any offer for Lin (a Restricted Free Agent), other teams are able to offer Lin a back-loaded contract which gives way to a maximum salary in the latter years of the contract. Matching such an offer would ultimately put New York above the luxury tax threshold. Is keeping Lin in the fold (recognizing his short-yet electrifying sample tenure as the Knicks' floor general) worth forfeiting the team's Midlevel Exception in the seasons to come?
Lin obviously rose up as an international phenomenon this past season, and thus, the marketing possibilities in a huge market like the Big Apple are endless. From a business prospective, it'd be insane (or simply Linsane) for the Knicks to let go such a hugely popular player, no matter what the cost may be.
Even so, Lin is still quite young and relatively unproven, given that he only started 25 contests. Which Jeremy Lin will show up in future seasons? Will it be the one that drove to the basket again and again, propelling the Knicks to victory nearly all on his own? Or might it be the young guard who looked inexperienced against teams like the Miami Heat, as he continued to struggle creating a balanced attack with his skills?
There's certainly a bit of irony that even after D'Antoni has left the organization, Lin's biggest competition for the Knicks' starting point guard stands to be fellow forthcoming free agent Steve Nash. As the team aims to develop so cohesion and consistency, perhaps it would be better to retain Lin, who is still young and may prove still able and willing to adapt to any system.
With free agency not set to begin until July 1st, it'll be Woodson who first learns his fate with the team. Iannazone notes an agreement to retain the interim coach could be reached in the coming days.