Former Harvard point guard signs with the New York Knicks
The Knicks picked up Harvard’s former star point guard Jeremy Lin off waivers from the Houston Rockets on Dec. 27. Lin is the first Chinese-American player in the NBA, and after going undrafted in 2010 mounted a respectable rookie campaign with the Golden State Warriors by playing in 29 games averaging 9.8 minutes, 2.6 points, and 1.1 steals per game.
However, Lin’s run with the Warriors came to an end in order to free up salary cap space. They released him in November, and the Houston Rockets signed Lin off waivers on Dec. 12, only to release him 12 days later. After a brief uncertainty of the future of his NBA career over Christmas, the Knicks signed Lin, just three days after his release from the Rockets.
What do the Knicks want with Lin?
1) To add depth after numerous injuries—While the Knicks look poised to be competitive in the Eastern Conference, their first round pick in the 2011 draft, Iman Shumpert, sprained his MCL in their game on Christmas against the Celtics. In addition, both the veteran guards the Knicks brought in are suffering from injuries. Baron Davis has a herniated disk that will keep him out from play until at least February, and Mike Bibby also sat out the season opener with back problems.
2) A Good, temporary, and inexpensive fix—The Knicks are over their salary cap and have only $2.5 million of “exception room” to pick up other free agents. Jeremy Lin is currently playing on a non-guaranteed contract which means he will not count against the Knicks’ salary cap (or the $2.5 million exception room) until Feb. 10. While there were other free agent guards, including Michael Redd and Gilbert Arenas, the Knicks likely would have had to dip into their $2.5 million to get either of those players.
What does any of this mean for Ivy sports?
More Harvard undergraduate graduates have become presidents (five) than have become NBA players (three), and while the next Dirk or Kobe is probably not playing for any of Columbia’s regular opponents, the Ivy League’s profile has been raised in recent years, particularly in men’s basketball. Not only has Jeremy Lin raised the Ancient Eight’s profile by being the first Ivy player in the NBA in almost a decade, but the Ivy League has also found success in the NCAA tournament with Cornell reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2010, Princeton nearly upsetting Kentucky in 2011, and Harvard being nationally ranked this season.
If Lin can find success as a role player in the NBA, it may open the door for some of the Ivy League’s current stars including Penn’s Zack Rosen and Yale’s Greg Mangano to get opportunities in the NBA.
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