Dec. 17, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks to pass around New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Missed Point Guards Led to Missing the Playoffs

You know you are a true New York Knicks fan when you read the news that Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson had dinner together.  They had a two hour dinner together the other night to discuss the present and the future of the Knicks and Anthony.  Now with CAA no longer in control, Anthony wants to be loved and recruited and know he will have input. 

The fact is, that Anthony hadhis input over the last two years, working directly with Mike Woodson and CAA.  CAA and Anthony called the shots — who stayed, who went. Many of the Knicks’ problems began with Linsanity.  Carmelo was then new to New York, New York was not winning and wondered if they made the right deal for Anthony.  Then, out of desperation Mike D’Antonni  played an Asian point guard that nobody wanted, Jeremy Lin.

Two years ago, Lin ignited the Madison Square Garden after helping the then struggling Knicks to a series of wins and the playoffs despite playing without injured stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. It was a thing of beauty.  I think all of New York loved it with the exceptions of Anthony and Woodson.

I remember after the season meeting with Coach Woodson, although no specific quote was given to me, I could tell Lin was not in the Knicks future. Like Woodson stated about any player he did not like, he was looking for a more defensive presence.  This from a team, a coach that were practically last in the league in defense.  Now, if you listen to the Knicks, they stated they allowed Lin to leave because of money.  However, the first move they made in the off season was to go after Steve Nash.  When that failed, they signed Jason Kidd and then Raymond Felton.  Lin, was never in the Knicks’ plans.  Yet Wednesday night with Houston’s season on the ropes, who do you think led the Rockets to victory?  Yes, the same Jeremy Lin, with 21 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Linsanity was alive and healthy last night in Houston.

Last night, Lin took the ball and practically turned back the clock to those crazy nights when he became a worldwide phenomenon at Madison Square Garden. He zigged when the Blazers’ defense zagged. He found the cracks that let him get into the lane and all the way to the basket. He found the openings and the nerve to pull up and stab in long jumpers just when the Rockets seemed ready to topple again.

“He had these two big 3-pointers at the end of possessions as the shot clock was ending,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “Those were big momentum plays for them and they took a little bit out of us.”

“I felt like I needed to be more of a spark tonight,” Lin said. “I haven’t done a great job of that this series. After the last game, I was really upset and I just believed and focused,” he said.

That changed in Game 5 when the Blazers’ Wes Matthews said that Lin was a deciding factor in the game.

“It seemed like Jeremy Lin hit big shot after big shot,” said Matthews said. “He was attacking the rim, hitting shots. We have to do a better job defensively on him.”

Apr 16, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) drives to the basket during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Now in Toronto, another point guard the Knickscould have had lit up Brooklyn for 36 points. Kyle Lowry made shot after shot down the stretch and carried Toronto on his back.  It seemed whenever a shot was needed, he made it.  His heart, his grit carried Toronto on his back. Here is a point guard the Knicks could have used, this year he averaged, 17.6 points, 7.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.  Lowry was the playmaker the Knicks didn’t trade for during this season when Garden chairman James Dolan refused to part with a future first-round pick. He’s a free agent this summer; however, now because of his great play, Toronto will probably keep him. Here was a player the Knicks could have stolen.

Lowry and Lin are both upgrades over Felton and could have led the Knicks to the playoffs this season.  Now you throw into the mix Beno Udrih, who off the bench had 14 and 11 point respectively and has played well off the bench for Memphis and you have to wonder why Woodson, Dolan, CAA or Anthony didn’t get the point.   Yes, I know Anthony and Felton are friends.  After Anthony scored 61 points, it was Felton who picked up the check at the bowling party.  The Batman in Anthony loved the Robin in Felton.  However, after watching two superior point guards make shot after shot at crunch time, who willed their prospective teams to wins without complaining to refs, making faces, throwing their hands up in the air and being lost on defense visa vie Felton.

CAA had the influence to get the Lowry deal done.  Anthony could have gone to Dolan if he so wanted.   It appears CAA and Anthony simply wanted Robin to keep feeding Anthony.  Facts be told Anthony hated Linsanity, he wanted to be the man in New York, he wanted all the publicity.  Well now he has it , but for all the wrong reasons. This year he was never 100% committed to the Knicks, he played this year for himself.  It was the stubbornness of Woodson or the pressure from CAA that prevented him from benching Felton and starting Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih or Tourie Murry.  Woodson just didn’t get the point all season.  Anthony was never all in this season, he worked to pad his numbers and did his best Dwight Howard impersonation.  As I look at teams like Toronto, Memphis, Atlanta, none of those teams have a superstar the likes of Anthony, yet do to coaching, defense and teamwork  they are all thriving in the postseason.

As I watched Toronto beat Brooklyn last night and than Houston beat Portland, I wondered what could have been.  Lin would have been an asset, an improvement, but Lowry would have led the Knicks to the Eastern Finals.  Both point guards are winners, game changers, not scared to make the big play, the big shot at the end of the game.  Its time for coaches to stop measuring point guards by their height alone, but the size of their heart.  Lin and Lowry have heart, they are winners.  Phil Jackson will hopefully read this and get the point, literally, or we are in for another long season.

Dr Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling author

Follow him on Twitter @drekaplan

Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Jeremy Lin Kyle Lowry New York Knicks Raymond Felton

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