Jeremy Lin is officially a Houston Rocket.
No surprise here.
The New York Knicks refused to match the $25.1 million dollar offer sheet Houston presented him. The $15 million dollar third year and the fact that New York recently traded for another point guard in Raymond Felton have now led us to the sad reality of LIN-SANITY never gracing the storied courts of Madison Square Garden again.
At least as a Knickerbocker.
Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!! #RedNation
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) July 18, 2012
It’s not as if Lin didn’t want to remain with the team. Jeremy recently came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated and discussed his love for the city of New York and his original desire to be a Knick for life.
“Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. … Now I’m definitely relieved.
“I love the New York fans to death. I wanted to play in front of those fans for the rest of my career.”
That won’t be the case anymore though.
Jeremy Lin will now step in and become the new face of the franchise over in Houston. After losing pretty much half of their roster (Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert, Chase Budinger, Goran Dragic, Marcus Camby) in free agency/trades as well as in hopes of clearing space and acquiring assets for Dwight Howard, the franchise sure needed someone who could butts in seats come October.
Not only does Lin fill the large void at point guard left empty by the departures of Lowry and Dragic, but he also fills another hole left by former Rocket star Yao Ming when it comes to the international market/promotion of the franchise, especially in Asia. Although Lin is American-born, he’s still of Chinese/Taiwanese descent. His arrival to the Rockets should help put the franchise back on the map in a part of the world that certainly loves their NBA basketball.
For that reason alone, Jeremy Lin will remain an international superstar. His global appeal will not fade just because he’s back with the Houston Rockets, a city in which 5-6% of its population is Asian as well.
As far as remaining a star around NBA circles and in North America goes, now that’s a tad more up in the air.
Houston isn’t New York (clearly). It may be the 4th-largest city in the United States, but playing in Houston doesn’t come close to the prestige, fame and notoriety that comes with competing on a nightly basis in the “Big Apple”.
Besides, making one of the most storied and beloved franchises in the NBA in the Knicks relevant again made Lin’s story that much greater. If Jeremy finds success in Houston….
will anyone notice?
Instead of having Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler to cushion his fall anymore, all Lin really has at the moment with the Rockets is three unproven first-round draft picks in Royce White, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones. The talent level is night and day from what he experienced playing with in New York. Lin will be asked to do a lot more in order to carry a team which hasn’t qualified for the postseason in the last 3 years back into the Western Conference playoffs.
We still don’t even know how good Lin truly is. He could very well be a flash in the pan and a “one-hit wonder”. He’s only started 25 games in his career and although he had an amazing stretch this past regular season in New York, his quantity of on-court work is still very small at this point. After averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists last season, is Lin ready to take his game to the next level and be a true all-star point guard for the Rockets?
Honestly, it’s too early to say at this point. With the team/roster they currently have, Lin could have an amazing year and still not take the Rockets to the postseason. This is a roster in shambles that certainly needs more quality parts around Lin to assist him on this journey.
I’m sure Lin’s popularity won’t fade as a Rocket. Those who loved Jeremy before will more than likely stick with him to his new home in Texas. He won’t have a plethora of superstar teammates taking the limelight off of him anymore (not that Lin truly had a problem with that).
This is Jeremy Lin’s team.
Would he be a larger star if he stayed in the Bronx?
Absolutely, but he’s a star nonetheless.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports