The worst part about Jeremy Lin becoming a Houston Rocket — which he did last night when the Knicks officially declined to sign his offer sheet — is that it virtually assures no one will be happy. This is one of those rare sports stories that has no winners, only losers. Those are the worst sports stories.
Let's take a look at where everyone stands, now that this is over, now that it's done. We think everybody's appreciably worse off.
Jeremy Lin. There's still a small (and confused, if you ask us) segment of the Knicks fan base who somehow blame Lin for this whole mess, as if there was something wrong with going out and getting himself the best deal he could, as if every other player in the NBA (or every other person in the world with a job) doesn't do the exact same thing. The real concern for Lin is, well, the Rockets don't have as much talent as the Knicks do (albeit old talent), and he's now pretty much expected to carry the Rockets the way he carried the Knicks when everyone was hurt. Now, the Rockets are thrilled to have him, and they're still pushing for Dwight Howard, but it's still sort of a tougher situation than in New York. Though there's one thing that's easier: There aren't three point guards competing with him on the roster. (And he probably is the team's superstar, rather than having the team's superstar pretty obviously not want him around.)
Carmelo Anthony. Fair or not, Anthony's always going to be connected to Lin's departure. His comments, walked back or not, about Lin's contract being ridiculous won't soon be forgotten, and there's so much mystery and weirdness around this move that people will always speculate just how much Carmelo was involved. (This is what happens when a franchise reverses everything it has been doing for three years the second you arrive and concentrates solely on making you happy.) There was already pressure on Carmelo Anthony coming into this season. Now there is even more. Honestly, the only way Carmelo's going to be remembered positively in this town is if he gets the Knicks into the Finals in the next three seasons. We think having Lin around would have made that easier. Reasonable people can disagree about that, but one thing everyone can agree on is that Anthony is going to be under the gun every night for the rest of his Knicks career. This team is now 100 percent modeled exactly the way he wants it to be. So it better work. Thing is, though: Do you think this team, as currently constructed (and subsequently constructed over the next three years), can beat the Heat? We don't.
The Knicks' chances of winning. As we mentioned: Even if you think Lin was too expensive, the Knicks were a better team during their short window with Lin than without him. This has always seemed like the strangest thing about the decision not to bring him back: In every other way, the Knicks have acted like the world would end if they didn't win a title in the next three years. But with Lin, they reversed the whole strategy of the rest of their summer. The other point guards are much bigger question marks than Lin ever was: Raymond Felton has basically been good for three months over the last three years, Jason Kidd is almost 40, and Pablo Prigiani is a total unknown (and also 35 himself). The one position the Knicks were dangerous thin at was guard. They are now thinner.
The fans. The best story at the Garden in a decade, the story that Garden veterans said captivated that building like nothing before, is gone for nothing. Nothing. Even if the move made financial sense — and again, we're far from sure it does — you're going to take a fan hit. Never minding that the mystery and bewildering nature of the move is one more reminder that the guy in charge of all of this is still Jim Dolan. It was tough to be a Knicks fan for the last decade of lousy basketball, but the recent resurgence made everybody dream big, made everyone think that this new era of the Knicks could be different. Now they know better. Now they remember who is in charge.
The Brooklyn Nets. Wait, nope: There is somebody better off in this. It's amazing how a franchise headed by a billionaire oligarch playboy that kicked a bunch of people out of their homes and is fundamentally changing the face of the great borough of Brooklyn suddenly seems like the most customer-friendly joint in town ... but they suddenly do. They are doing backflips in Metrotech this morning, we assure you.
So, Lin's gone. We'll all move on. Maybe this will all seem silly in a year, when both the Knicks and Lin are irrelevant. It's still important to remember how this feels.