Allen took advantage of his status as an unrestricted free agent to go where he felt wanted, signing with the Miami Heat for less money than he could have received from the Boston Celtics. Lin, as a restricted free agent, does not have Allen's freedom, which is why last season's biggest pre-Finals headline-maker will probably be back with the New York Knicks this fall.
The Knicks were not as aggressive in their early offseason pursuit of the box office sensation as Lin's camp would have liked, according to a report in the New York Daily News. In a way, Lin's reported beef sounds frivolous, since he is getting paid at least $29 million to play basketball for the next four years either way. That is not a bad gig.
What apparently miffed Lin was that the Knicks failed to offer him a contract until the Rockets acted. The timeline is mostly a technicality. The Knicks have the right to match any offer Lin receives from another team, so it made some sense for the cap-strapped Knicks to let the market set Lin's value rather than blow him out of the water with an early offer that might have overpaid the architect of Linsanity.
There is one issue with that rationale, though: There is no such thing as the Knicks overpaying for Linsanity. They can overpay (and are overpaying) for Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Camby and Steve Novak. They showed no hesitation in adding broken-down former stars like Baron Davis and Mike Bibby last year. They dropped $3 million a year on 38-year-old backup point guard Jason Kidd and have more than $40 million per season combined wrapped up in Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony over the next three years.
None of those players, not even Anthony, captured fans' attention like Lin. The Knicks long ago were supplanted by the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Heat as the favored teams among the NBA's vast international fan base, and with the arrival of one Harvard graduate they claimed a hold on the most populous and fastest-growing continental market in the world. A photo from an apparel store in China during the height of Linsanity told the story, with three players' jerseys hung on a wall: Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Jeremy Lin.
Judging strictly in basketball terms, Lin might not be worth the $19 million guaranteed over the first three seasons of his reported offer sheet with the Rockets. He does not handle the ball exceptionally well for a point guard, his outside shot is streaky and he lacks pure point guard instincts. He is not much of a defender, either on or off the ball, and his creative finishes in the lane became less effective as opponents had more time to study him.
It has been a while since the Knicks were built with basketball concerns in mind, however. Otherwise they would never have exchanged a solid, young four-man core of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov with Denver for Anthony in 2011. The Knicks are about blockbusters.
For all their attempts to stack the roster with big names that might have amounted to a contender three or four years ago, Lin was the Knicks' biggest blockbuster in years. The Knicks had an opportunity to make a statement that come hell or high water, they were not going to let him get away. Instead they appear to have played slow, and even though Lin will almost certainly be back in New York, the love in his heart he feels from the Knicks might not match all the love Lin has given to the Knicks' bank account.