The outbreak of Lin-sanity inevitably turns a spotlight to the Warriors front office. That's where the decision to waive Jeremy Lin was made.
Initially, the whispers from Warriors brass were that Lin's captivating run was more a fluke. Inevitably Lin would come back to earth.
But as the Lin-credible run continues, the New York Knicks having won seven in a row with the Bay Area native at point guard, the reality is becoming more obvious. The Warriors missed on this one.
Warriors general manager Larry Riley admitted as much Wednesday.
"We can't take the position he's a fluke, because he isn't," Riley said in a phone interview. "Jeremy Lin will have a 10-year career in this league. People are expecting him to fall off the face of the earth. That's not going to happen."
So the question begs: How did this happen? Golden State wanted to make a play for restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, a move that required clearing up more than $10 million of salary cap space. That dictated that Lin's salary of some $700,000 be axed from the payroll.
The Los Angeles Clippers matched the Warriors' offer, keeping Jordan in L.A, something the Warriors knew was a risk.
"With a certain degree of reluctance, we did it anyway," Riley said. "At the same time, I'm not going to duck the issue -- we went after a center."
The team could've used its amnesty clause on center Andris Biedrins, who is making $9 million per over the next three years. That would have allowed the Warriors to keep the likes of Lin and swingman Reggie Williams, also let go in the bid for Jordan.
"It's truly hard to ask your owner to amnesty $27 million when you have three years to figure out how to deal with it," Riley said.
The Warriors also could've renounced their rights to rookie guard Charles Jenkins, an option several team sources said coach Mark Jackson was against. But cutting Jenkins would have made the Warriors' offer to Jordan about $300,000 less.
"We had to get (the offer) up high enough to make it viable," Riley said.
Clearly, keeping Lin was not a priority. But Riley didn't hesitate in pointing out the one person most against getting rid of Lin.
"(Co-owner) Joe (Lacob) was the most reluctant," Riley said. "He really didn't want to do it, more than any of us. But we knew we had to. We needed a center, and we felt we had a good chance to get one."
Part of the Warriors' problem, Riley said, was not knowing what they had.
"I never saw Jeremy Lin as a starter on a winning team in the NBA," Riley said. "I did see him as a backup. So he did exceed our expectations. He exceeded everyone's expectations, except probably his own."
Even with starting point guard Stephen Curry's persistent ankle issues, Lin was limited to 9.8 minutes in 29 appearances as a rookie.
Under then-coach Keith Smart, veteran guard Acie Law (currently playing in Greece) appeared in 40 games and averaged 15.8 minutes. Of the 17 players who donned a Warriors uniform last season, 15 totaled more minutes than Lin, including forward Al Thornton and swingman Rodney Carney.
"He should have played more, probably," Riley said. "But you understand where Keith was coming from. He was trying to win games, trying to save his job.—
Riley said the Warriors guaranteed the first year of Lin's two-year contract because they saw his potential.
"We had a player. We let him go to go after another player, and we didn't get him. We have to face up to that."