Countdown to a Jeremy Lin calamity that doesn’t make any sense

Jeremy Lin in Toronto. (nba.com)
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It's Jeremy Lin Decision Day.

The Knicks have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night to decide whether to spend a lot of money to retain Lin.

Since his salary wouldn't affect the Knicks' salary-cap situation (they'll be over it with or without Lin), the argument against keeping him is essentially that he'd be earning, subjectively, too much of Cablevision CEO James Dolan's money, and that the team should stick it to him and the Houston Rockets for driving an irritatingly hard bargain. 

The argument for keeping him is, well, everything else: He fills a clear need for the team at point guard; the Knicks probably couldn't acquire a player of similar talent at his position due to the constraints on New York's salary cap for years; he's a popular phenomenon without comparison in recent Knicks history.

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If the Knicks let him go for nothing, they'll be replacing him in the lineup with a far lesser player, alienating their fan base just as the team loses its monopoly on the New York market and downgrading their chances of contending in what looks once again to be an extremely tough conference.

Oh, and that contract the Knicks are balking at? It would be justified even if Lin turned out to be merely good, instead of great.

Leaked news from the team doesn't point to a happy resolution. The Knicks officially completed a trade that brought former Knicks Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas back to New York. Gone are Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, a pair of Greek prospects and a second-round draft pick.

Felton will earn more than $10 million over three years, numbers that would typically suggest a starting job.

It seems, even to some Lin skeptics, that the Knicks are spiting themselves pretty dramatically here. They wouldn't be letting him go because he's a risk: Lin's tenure as a pro is short, although it is worth pointing out that Linsanity ran roughly the same number of games as a college player's season, and that he excelled in most of that time against far superior competition. Entire franchises are routinely bet on less basketball evidence. And the Knicks, with their ample veteran talent, wouldn't be betting the whole franchise on Lin, just adding him to the talent base.

One player who excelled in a single season in college, then received a contract that made him financially secure for life, was Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks star, who called Houston's Lin offer "ridiculous," followed up with this: “For Jeremy, I know that he definitely wants to be back in New York and James Dolan definitely wants him back. But it’s just a matter of figuring it out at this point.”

Dolan wants Lin back, but he's getting overruled by--who, exactly? There's nothing to figure out, other than whether the Knicks are going to let pique over a renegotiated deal change their entire offseason plan from retaining and building around Jeremy Lin, to downgrading the basketball team and eliminating the most marketable part of their organization.

That would be quite a big mistake, even by the impressive standards of the New York Knicks.

Elsewhere in New York sports:

METS

Matt Harvey looked like a good prospect who would be rushed to the big leagues if he came up now, in a Monday night start for Buffalo. That makes sense; it is exactly what he would be. He's still a better bet for this Saturday, when the Mets need to fill Dillon Gee's spot in the rotation, than Miguel Batista.

The Mets start a three game series against Washington Tuesday night, inauspiciously facing a lefty in a series that could dictate whether the Mets contend for the NL East.

RED BULLS

Michael Lewis fears, rightly, for the safety of the players at Wednesday's Red Bulls/Fire matchup, due to heat.

YANKEES

If your concern is that the Yankees are hitting too many home runs, you will no doubt be even more nervous after their 6-3  victory Monday night over the Blue Jays, powered by a Raul Ibanez grand slam. Also, you should relax.