Was Lin's exit more basketball-focused?

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
4:00
PM ET
You don't have to be a sports fan to realize a pro athlete has more earning power off the court or field in New York City.

This is where it all happens, the city that never sleeps. More businesses, more people, increased exposure, especially for a guy like Jeremy Lin.

Lin could've had his own billboard in Times Square, right next to Rihanna. And there's no question his two main representatives, Jim Tanner and Roger Montgomery, were probably thinking the same thing at some point.

"Every agent makes more off sponsorships, so why Houston and not New York, especially for Jeremy Lin?" one agent said. "He could make money in endorsements wherever he goes now, but New York could've translated into more. I don't know why his agent would not push Lin to be in New York. But, his priority could've been to not only find him more pay, but an opportunity to play with a bigger role -- and that's in Houston."

So maybe, just maybe, Tanner and Montgomery pushed for Lin to go to Houston so his star power -- on the court, that is -- would blow up and he'd be an immediate All-Star like his mentor Yao Ming was in the same city in 2003.

Perhaps Lin's high contract with the Rockets -- three years, $25.1 million (roughly $15 million in the third season) -- isn't the only reason Lin is heading southwest. The Knicks and Rockets could've felt that Lin was better off in his new destination.

Someone familiar with both teams' offseason game plans told ESPN New York, "The Rockets were looking for an attacking point guard, and that's Jeremy Lin. I'm not sure he would’ve worked with Melo in New York. That's why I don't think the Rockets made that offer just to drive up what the Knicks would have to pay."

About 1,650 miles away in New York, a veteran NBA scout said that Raymond Felton could fit better with the Knicks because he can make more plays without the ball than Lin can right now (shooting 3-pointers, specifically). The Knicks need that with Carmelo Anthony as the fixture in the offense.

So you have to ask yourself this question: Did Lin really want to return to the Knicks?

"Lin needs the ball in his hands a bit more than Felton, so he'll fit better in Houston, where it's more of a pick-and-roll system," the scout said.

Perhaps envisioning himself back in New York, Lin felt that his basketball potential may not have been maximized with Anthony taking control of most of the offense.

For now, many fans are putting the blame on the Knicks for not matching Lin's offer sheet, but they shouldn't get too caught up in it. That's because the Knicks got a financial steal in Felton. If he comes into training camp well-conditioned, which has been an issue of his in the past, he'll have a better chance of getting back to his Knicks-self from the 2010-11 season, playing at an All-Star level with career-highs in points (17.1) and assists (9.0 assists).

"If he focuses, gets in shape and especially shoots the ball well, the Knicks will benefit from having a point guard who can play a little bit off the ball," the scout said. "He's a better value for sure."

Lin could've been a Knick, but it appears that the team didn't want to absorb his hefty salary. Not only that, he could have been the team's starting point guard, as coach Mike Woodon said three times publicly since the season ended. But Lin drove up his price too much, which likely incensed the Knicks.

Now, with Felton, they feel they have a starting point guard who, like Lin, has something to prove in New York.

Maybe, for once, one of the rare times Knicks owner James Dolan is conservative, it will pay off in the end.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
23.8 3.5 0.6 35.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.1
AssistsJ. Smith 3.7
StealsP. Prigioni 1.4
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.5