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--- news (7/18/2012)
Jeremy Lin may be gone but NY Knicks circus will go on with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith

Box office smash that it was, the Jeremy Lin circus has left town, and that’s good for all parties concerned.

But it’s not as if the rest of the circus has pulled out of the Garden with him.

The Knicks still have the Carmelo-Amar’e problem to work out, if that is even possible, because the two stars of this never-ending soap opera are staying put for now. They still have Melo, their ball-stopper supreme. They still have Amar’e, who can’t seem to get over the fact that he’s no longer king of the Garden.


And it doesn’t end there. They still have J.R. Smith, the master tweeter of women’s posteriors who inspired the team’s unofficial playoff battle cry, “Pull up your pants!” They even took on a noted night owl in Jason Kidd, who certainly didn’t waste any time living up to his party-hearty reputation out in the Hamptons.

Those should constitute more than enough areas of concern for Jim Dolan, Glen Grunwald and Mike Woodson.

Now just imagine if Dolan had matched the Houston Rockets’ offer sheet and retained Lin. You want to talk about the craziest locker room in the NBA? And Metta World Peace isn’t even going to be a part of it.

The Knicks were the ones who gave Lin the ball, after the Warriors, Mavs and Rockets gave up on him. The Knicks, and really Mike D’Antoni, made Linsanity possible. On Tuesday, they did him one last humongous favor, allowing him to walk out of town with a boatload of greenbacks, and without having to set foot in a hostile locker room.

With his new $25 million contract, Lin would have had to somehow survive in a place where Anthony didn’t really want him, and where jealous teammates, starting with Smith, would have been trashing his balloon payment with every turnover Lin committed. Recent comments from Anthony and Smith told everyone that this had a chance to get very ugly, and that is the last thing this team, with only one playoff win in the last 11 years, needs.

The idea is to get everyone pulling in the same direction, but it’s hard to imagine the Knicks being one big happy family with No. 17 in their presence.

That’s why this is the best move by Dolan in years. No fiscal insanity or fiscal Linsanity or whatever you want to call it from the Garden chairman, not this time.

After overpaying so many times for talent during his tenure as Knicks owner, Dolan refused to open his bottomless vault, and was wise to let the Rockets take Lin off his hands. For all the money Lin could have made for the Garden, his third year, at $14.9 million, is entirely too much for a player who might be no more than the Knicks’ third-best point guard, after Kidd and Raymond Felton.

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Lin made out great in all of this. He will pocket money beyond his wildest dreams — it has to be a record deal for an undrafted player — and there is a chance he might be throwing lob passes to Dwight Howard this coming season. Plus, if Lin underperforms, the crowds in Houston will be a lot more forgiving than if he didn’t play up to his third-year “max” salary at the Garden.

So we’ve closed the books on Lin’s Knick career, remarkable as it was — until he started showing the kinds of flaws that have led most of the NBA to suspect that unless he’s in D’Antoni’s point-guard friendly system, he’s no more than a back-up. When he didn’t try to play against the Heat in the playoffs, even as he admitted he was 85% healthy after knee surgery, he took his knocks. Rightfully so.

The parting was messy, with Lin running back to the Rockets for more money after they mysteriously made their first offer matchable. He was well within his rights to have Houston redo his contract, but it was taken by the Knicks as another sign that he was being ungrateful.

All in all, this was an amazing story no one ever saw coming.

“The whole Linsanity thing lasted three weeks and it could have only happened in New York,” one Eastern Conference GM said. “If he had the same three-week stretch in Portland, New Orleans or Charlotte, no one would have paid nearly the attention it got in New York. Which shows you why guys like Carmelo Anthony want to play in New York.”

True, there’s no spotlight like the Garden spotlight. And there’s no circus quite like the one at the Garden, even if Jeremy Lin has taken his act down to Houston.

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