Pavlos Georgiou: Why were the Knicks scared of Jeremy Lins ‘poison pill’ contract in 2014-15? The contract was for $15 million and they have traded for Bargnani whose contract is $12 million for that year to go along with JRs and Pablos new contracts that effect that year also? We are all over Lin but I am just interested in the thinking behind this. Nobody has ever answered this question before.
Harris DeckerI actually think this is a very interesting question and one that I’ve been thinking about for the past season. Jeremy Lin obviously exploded onto the New York scene and did what he could to make the most of the offseason that immediately followed his success.
With the Knicks unwilling to match the offer from the Houston Rockets, Lin packed his bags for Texas. The contract amount was only half the issue though. The team saw Lin as someone who would clog up the salary cap, and while they were willing to bring him back, they would only do so at their price. The contracts that the Knicks brought in — Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith — serve roles that better compliment the team as it currently stands.
The reason they were “scared,” as you said, makes a lot of sense. In a year when a lot of contracts would be expiring, paying $15 million to a relative unknown in Lin could create a situation in which pursuing a big name free agent would be impossible.
The real question I’m wondering is, are the Knicks better off with or without him? As it stands, he is fighting for a starting spot in the new look Rockets lineup, while Raymond Felton is secure in his starting role with the Knicks. If Lin were still in New York, there could be a situation in which too many people want to score. While he was a great passer, Lin obviously made a name for himself hitting huge game-winning shots, something that would not be possible with Carmelo Anthony (and Smith, for that matter) in the lineup.
Back to your question: At the time, the Knicks weren’t interested in dropping big money on a point guard, as they believed a true distributor with less emphasis on scoring would fit the team better. This was especially true if Amar’e Stoudemire would be part of the team. Felton, Kidd and Prigioni ended up serving this role for the Knicks, with J.R. picking up the slack from the oft-injured Stoudemire.
It’s hard to say that the Knicks would be better off with Lin who is quickly fading into the heart of Texas but the reasons behind not swallowing the “poison pill” are sound.