Rocket Capital!
July 19, 2012 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Will the Houston Rockets' Investment in Jeremy Lin Pay Off?
posted by Renoroc (59 comments total)

 
Data point: my SO's Chinese aunts are visiting NYC, and they had expressed interest in seeing a Knicks game. We asked them if they had wanted to see Jeremy Lin, and they had no idea who he was.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2012


Contrary data point: on the other hand, when we're in Manhattan or Brooklyn Chinatown, the street stopped dead when Jeremy Lin played. People stopped on the street to watch TVs in a store window.

Conclusion: people like basketball more in the US.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2012


From a marketing perspective, almost certainly (unless China collapses in the next few years).

From a basketball perspective, I don't know. His success seemed a little...ephemeral. We'll see, once he's recovered from his injuries.
posted by downing street memo at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2012


I love how everyone is so interested in whether Lin will be "worth" his contract.

He's a young player with a lot of potential and a big fan base. Considering the number of terrible, terrible contracts given out each year by NBA owners, a 3yr/$30M contract is chump change. And if he doesn't pan out, his contract will be a great trade chip in year 3.

My favorite story is the legend of how Brian Cardinal (perennial bench player) got his 6 year deal*. The Grizzlies owner walked into then-GM Jerry West's office and started giving him shit for not signing any free agents. West tried to say there was no one worth signing, but the owner wouldn't listen. So right there West picks up the phone and offers Cardinal's agent 6yrs/$40M, and says "happy now?"

The owners plead poverty during CBA negotiations, but the rest of the time they treat salaries like monopoly money.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:23 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


From a marketing perspective, almost certainly (unless China collapses in the next few years).

As the article points out, due to the way the NBA is organized it's relatively difficult for any given team to directly make money off of fan interest in a foreign market:

it’s harder for individual teams to profit from international marketing than you might imagine. When a Houston Rockets jersey bearing the name of Jeremy Lin is sold in China — or in a retail outlet in suburban Houston or anywhere else in the U.S., for that matter, outside of a team-owned store — that money does not flow directly to the Rockets. It’s split among the NBA’s 30 teams. The Rockets also can’t, say, cut their own television deals in China. The NBA handles those negotiations, and divvies up the money among its franchises.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:26 AM on July 19, 2012


The Knicks have been a favorite team for many NBA fans in Hong Kong and China, as well as the Bulls. The fact that Jeremy Lin was on the Knicks, it made the US Chinese who were never interested in watching NBA games fans. There are a lot of Chinese people in NYC who have made a point to support Jeremy Lin. Just looking at Lin as a player, he doesn't drink, smoke, party and likes to go to church and listens to his mom. Imagine Lin being in the NBA as Lin taking violin or piano or joining the math and chess team. Must do better than anyone in the league otherwise mom will be disappointed and the Lin family name will be disgraced!
posted by Yellow at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2012


This article totally misses the real reason why the contract was "ridiculous." It's not because Lin isn't worth $25M over three years. It's because the contract was structured in a way that exploits a loophole in the CBA. The Rockets can afford to make the offer because they get to amortize the $25M equally over three years in respect to salary cap. The Knicks, on the other hand, would have to apply each year's salary at the actual dollar amount--that makes the $15M salary in year three a "poison pill" because it would push the team into the luxury tax.

That's my understanding, at least. I could be wrong since I'm mostly just relying on this article.
posted by mullacc at 7:51 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Probably more than the Knicks investment in Jason Kidd.
posted by jonmc at 7:53 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple days ago Nate Silver posted some analysis of Jeremy Lin considered for cost and Estimated Wins Added. His take was Lin was worth quite a bit to the Knicks. Further, he pointed out that the Knicks have pursued a strategy of signing veterans to long contracts, then getting nothing when the veterans get injured, and suggested it was opportune to try something different.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 7:57 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw, you beat me to that FiveThirtyEight analysis. It's interesting to see that Asia-based advertisers are already leaving the Knicks and MSG has lost $100M in market cap since Lin officially left.
posted by Plutor at 8:04 AM on July 19, 2012


Ugh the Knicks have done terrible with their big vet signings. It was not good to lose Lin.
posted by Mister_A at 8:05 AM on July 19, 2012


Kiddsanity doesn't quite have that ring to it.

Be warned however, San Antonio in bringing the Millssanity this year. I'm sure the Australians are tripping over themselves to by Patty Mills paraphernalia, right?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:14 AM on July 19, 2012


The Knicks are the third worst run team in the NBA, and if they weren't playing in a big market would probably be the worst. This is just another chapter in their ignominious history since James Dolan started getting involved.

Lord Wolf, next time maybe just actually back away and not just pretend to?
posted by cell divide at 8:15 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought this was an interesting contract for the Rockets because they are one of the few teams that know just how much a Chinese player will bring in in revenue.

The Knicks continue to be a guide to how not to run a basketball team.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:16 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dolan is an idiot . They did have couple of ways of still matching and reducing the negative impact. But why would they even let him test the waters in the first place instead of making the opening offer ? Instead they are now going with this ? But I guess after those quotes from Carmelo and JR Smith it was clear that the locker room woulndt have good chemistry anyways....
posted by asra at 8:29 AM on July 19, 2012


Strange off-season. Will Howard go to the Lakers?
posted by pracowity at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2012


Can't wait for this car and this tummy to become global sensations and prove James Dolan right.

I've been watching Summer League like it's my job, and Houston has some very exciting rookies: Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White's hands, Donatas Montejunas, plus undrafted Scott Machado. Highly recommend checking out some of their games on NBA.com ($5) if you're a Lin fan and thinking of watching the Rockets next year; their last two games (against Portland and Chicago) were especially fun.

Too bad they'll all be traded for Andrew Bynum in a few days.
posted by acidic at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love Royce White. But Houston does need to trade some of those rookies away. An All-Star bird in the hand is worth a handful of "prospects" in the bush.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:49 AM on July 19, 2012


I think the investment will pay off. I seem to recall reading, though I cannot find sources now, that suggest the Rockets were specifically picked out by Yao Ming's team of handlers because of the Asian demographic in that team's sphere. It was unclear to me why they felt so strongly about the Rockets in that regard as opposed to, for example, the Knicks.

I can't figure out where Carmelo Anthony stood on Jeremy Lin. On the one hand, he gave himself a ton of credit for getting then-coach D'Antoni to give more playing time to Lin, which sparked Linsanity, and he (Anthony) certainly said a bunch of things that sounded "right" about the situation he expected when he returned to the lineup after his injury.

But then in recent weeks, he made a bunch of comments that suggested that he hoped the door wouldn't hit Lin on the way out. I don't see how a guy who doesn't get involved in any nonsense on or off the court or place himself ahead of the team is a problem for a superstar like Anthony who claims to want to embody those same values, but there ya have it.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:50 AM on July 19, 2012


Yeah, I mean Melo is like the most team-oriented player ever!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:52 AM on July 19, 2012


Dolan is an idiot

Couldn't agree more. If the Knicks ever want to get good again they have to start pruning from the top. Dolan is a sports disaster, ruining both the Knicks and the Rangers.
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on July 19, 2012


This is entirely about Dolan being offended that Lin and/or the Rockets renegotiated the offer sheet. That’s it. So Dolan can forgive all the HORRIBLE things Isiah did to both the team itself and the image of the Knicks and MSG, but THIS he cannot forgive? THIS makes him cut off his nose to spite all our faces?
How I learned to stop worrying and leave the Knicks by Alan Sepinwall
posted by RogerB at 8:57 AM on July 19, 2012


The Inevitable Return of Jeremy Lin -- the Wall Street Journal reports on Dolan's long-range plan to bring Lin back to the Knicks.
posted by zipadee at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2012


And then there's Philadelphia's pursuit of deliberate mediocrity, signing exclusively undistinguished role players to mid-range two-year contracts so there will be enough cap room to pursue a big FA signing in 2014, after Elton Brand's eleventy kajillion dollars are finally off the books.

I mean, it makes sense in the long term, but man are the next two years going to be boring.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:59 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


People like Dolan and Dan Snyder have made me reevaluate, in the last few years, how I root for professional sports teams. When you root for a team, you support that team. Often financially. So you're supporting, in 95% of cases, some rich billionaire. Which billionaire do you want to make richer? If that's the question, then I bet people would choose their sports teams differently. In the NFL, I root for Green Bay because they're publicly owned. No billionaire asshole owner that won't relinquish control of the team. In other sports, I look to the management of teams and decide who to root for based off of the decisions that are made, the makeup of the team that year, and all that jazz. I don't give a shit about who I'm "supposed" to root for. "Fair weather fans" supposedly only root for a team when they're good. Good! When an owner fucks over a team for no reason other than the fact that they're an idiot, why would you root for that team? How does that make any sense? Root for who you want to root for, life is short.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:00 AM on July 19, 2012


Strange off-season. Will Howard go to the Lakers?

I think it's looking increasingly likely, as the other options dry up and Orlando is faced with getting nothing in return when he walks, and starting the season with a player who will be leaving and doesn't want to be there. Who knows though, maybe a mystery team will come through, or Houston takes a gamble and picks him up without a new contract.
posted by cell divide at 9:01 AM on July 19, 2012


Anecdata: I know a Chinese-American lady here in NYC who is a big Knicks fan and she didn't come out to dinner with us the other night because she had to "stay home sobbing about Jeremy Lin."

I actually don't think she was being hyperbolic.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:01 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which billionaire do you want to make richer?

In many cases, you don't actually enrich the Billionaire, you just help him lose less money (not necessarily losing money per se, but not getting optimum ROI). Sports teams aren't a very good investment in the short or medium term. This may be changing because of the fact that people increasingly don't watch commercials on regular TV programs, but do when they're watching sports.
posted by cell divide at 9:03 AM on July 19, 2012


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "People like Dolan and Dan Snyder have made me reevaluate, in the last few years, how I root for professional sports teams. When you root for a team, you support that team. Often financially. So you're supporting, in 95% of cases, some rich billionaire. Which billionaire do you want to make richer? If that's the question, then I bet people would choose their sports teams differently. In the NFL, I root for Green Bay because they're publicly owned. No billionaire asshole owner that won't relinquish control of the team. In other sports, I look to the management of teams and decide who to root for based off of the decisions that are made, the makeup of the team that year, and all that jazz. I don't give a shit about who I'm "supposed" to root for. "Fair weather fans" supposedly only root for a team when they're good. Good! When an owner fucks over a team for no reason other than the fact that they're an idiot, why would you root for that team? How does that make any sense? Root for who you want to root for, life is short."

Join a fantasy league, then you start rooting for players as opposed to teams. It was an odd transition when I first joined. Except of course in baseball where you root for the Yankees!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2012


I think if given a choice between the Dolan family and the Gambino family, most New Yorkers would choose to keep the latter.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:06 AM on July 19, 2012


Is there an equivalent business where somebody buys an asset, people hate that person and curse them and wish them failure, yet the same people complaining continue to line the purchaser's pockets? Or is sports completely unique?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:08 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm just sort of sad the Raptors didn't land Lin. I know we were one of the teams that pitched him, but Lin ended up only taking Houston's offer seriously.

NO ATHLETES LOVE TORONTO SPORTS TEAMS. Granted, there are many reasons for this. But come on, we're the fourth biggest city in the North American sports leagues. Whenever an athlete comes here they say "this place is great" (because we are). Surely that should count for something.
posted by mightygodking at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2012


Is there an equivalent business where somebody buys an asset, people hate that person and curse them and wish them failure, yet the same people complaining continue to line the purchaser's pockets? Or is sports completely unique?

I knew of people who complained bitterly about the late Mr. Jobs' Reality Distortion Field who nevertheless bought iProducts regularly, but I suppose that's not quite the same thing as, say, folks who wish bad things would happen to Donald Sterling but still buy tickets to Clippers games.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:15 AM on July 19, 2012


Join a fantasy league, then you start rooting for players as opposed to teams. It was an odd transition when I first joined. Except of course in baseball where you root for the Yankees!

My most agonizing year in fantasy baseball was 2007 when I wasn't there for draft day and autodrafted Schilling. God, rooting for the Red Sox in even the vaguest way was filthy and disgusting. Shannon Stewart breaking up his no hitter was the most YESSSSS/NOOOOOO day in my baseball/fantasy fandom.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:16 AM on July 19, 2012


Will Howard go to the Lakers?

I hope so. I'm looking forward to watching him & Kobe Bryant physically wrestle each other for the ball by mid-season. Mega Whirled Peas will be their bastion of sanity. Mad-cap coach-firing antics to ensue!
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:21 AM on July 19, 2012


Is there an equivalent business where somebody buys an asset, people hate that person and curse them and wish them failure, yet the same people complaining continue to line the purchaser's pockets? Or is sports completely unique?

Yes. It's called the American political system.
posted by swift at 9:25 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


If we have to give up Scola to get Lin.. then no, no it wont be worth it.
posted by flyinghamster at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm just sort of sad the Raptors didn't land Lin. I know we were one of the teams that pitched him, but Lin ended up only taking Houston's offer seriously.

Has the SI interview been linked to yet in this thread? If so I missed it.

The Knicks told Lin to go get the best offer he could find and they would match it. The Rockets were the only team to offer Lin a contract -- not the Raptors, not the Knicks, not anybody. I guess everyone thought the Knicks would match anything so there was no point. Such a strange situation.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:28 AM on July 19, 2012


Imagine Lin being in the NBA as Lin taking violin or piano or joining the math and chess team. Must do better than anyone in the league otherwise mom will be disappointed and the Lin family name will be disgraced!

Yikes. I was hoping Lin would transcend or at least escape Tiger Momism, which I have nothing good to say about
posted by Bwithh at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2012


mightygodking: "NO ATHLETES LOVE TORONTO SPORTS TEAMS. Granted, there are many reasons for this. But come on, we're the fourth biggest city in the North American sports leagues. Whenever an athlete comes here they say "this place is great" (because we are). Surely that should count for something."

For many (most?) pro athletes, money counts mostm as I think it should. That is their profession after all. Taxes are a large part of the equation. Lin is supposedly saving a stick ($1 million) a year in Texas over NY. From what I understand, Americans playing in Canada have larger tax bills.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:31 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm looking forward to watching him & Kobe Bryant physically wrestle each other for the ball by mid-season.

Even if they don't get Howard, Kobe and Nash are going to be wrestling for that ball anyway. With Howard...wow.
posted by zipadee at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2012


he doesn't drink, smoke, party and likes to go to church and listens to his mom.
Chinese moms might love this (not to mention his degree from Harvard), but there are a lot of non-conformist kids who would benefit more if he did ALL of those things, AND if he refused a full ride to Harvard to go to Rutgers instead, and THEN dropped out.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:03 AM on July 19, 2012


Data point: my SO's Chinese aunts are visiting NYC, and they had expressed interest in seeing a Knicks game. We asked them if they had wanted to see Jeremy Lin, and they had no idea who he was.

He's from Taiwan, not Mainland China! I don't remember Yao being that big in Taiwan either.
posted by FJT at 11:12 AM on July 19, 2012


Data point: my SO's Chinese aunts are visiting NYC, and they had expressed interest in seeing a Knicks game. We asked them if they had wanted to see Jeremy Lin, and they had no idea who he was.

Your aunts may have only known him by his Chinese name. My Chinese grandmother has no idea who "Jeremy Lin" is but loves "Lin Shu Hao".
posted by acidic at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2012


The Rockets were the only team to offer Lin a contract -- not the Raptors, not the Knicks, not anybody.

Lin fielded informal offers from the Rockets, Raptors and at least one other team. All three teams invited him to come visit and get a feel for their cities; he only took up Houston on the offer, and then Houston made their formal offer. Toronto (and whoever else - let's say, I dunno, Charlotte) were never even in the running.
posted by mightygodking at 12:10 PM on July 19, 2012


Uh he was born in LA., so neither is he from Taiwan nor is he Chinese. Furthermore, the notion that his appeal is exclusively to Asian and Asian American fans is bizzare. He is the embodiment of the underdog and became one of the biggest sports stories in the last few decades. The whole point is that he succeeded despite his appearance, yet I have feel it is still used to undermine his value as an athletic, above average (potentially excellent) point guard.
posted by helot at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2012


Underdog yes, because of his appearance not so much (although it certainly didn't hurt his story and ability to gain a fandom) - he succeeded despite his lack of hype. The NBA almost never has a star come out of nowhere after the college level. There are (many, many) players who look like they're going to be stellar and then bust in the pro game, but very few who look like nothing special before entering the NBA and then turn out to be dominant. Lin was a big fish in a small pond at Harvard, went undrafted, spent two years as an unregarded backup on a bad team and only then caught fire - that's a great, and rare, story no matter what he looks like.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:36 PM on July 19, 2012


Uh he was born in LA., so neither is he from Taiwan nor is he Chinese.

Hmm, it's not so clear cut as that. But, I do admit that it's murky, and the best person to refer to where he's from is Lin himself. I was born in Taiwan, but identify more as American rather than Asian-American.
posted by FJT at 12:48 PM on July 19, 2012


He's from Taiwan, not Mainland China! I don't remember Yao being that big in Taiwan either.

He's not from Taiwan, but his parents are. Regardless, the article was about selling Lin to Chinese people in China, where apparently he is indeed huge in some quarters.

Furthermore, the notion that his appeal is exclusively to Asian and Asian American fans is bizzare.

Nobody thinks that Lin appeals exclusively to people of East Asian descent. Of course Lin is broadly appealing, and for very good reason. The reason why people bring up China is that having an Asian-American star opens up new opportunities for new fans.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2012


I am Asian (well, Korean, and identify more as Korean than Asian-American despite the years living in the U.S.) and a big college sports fan, and didn't pay much attention to the NBA prior to Linsanity. And then I was actually checking the TV schedule to see which Knicks game would be televised next. Looking at Korean websites and blogs, Lin seemed to have quite a following in S. Korea. His being of Taiwanese descent and not from mainland Chinese was a plus, and also that physically he was similar to professional and college basketball players in Korea contributed to his appeal. Lin wasn't some one-of-a-kind physical specimen such as Yao Ming, but somebody more similar to his fans, as in "Oh hey, a guy like me's lighting up the NBA!"
posted by needled at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2012


> the Rockets were specifically picked out by Yao Ming's team of handlers because of the Asian demographic in that team's sphere.

Yao was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the # 1 pick in the 2002 draft so his choices were to sign with the Rockets or sit out.

Lin is an interesting but huge gamble. The anals of American professional sports are filled with flashes-in-the-pan and one-year-wonders. After everybody has time to scout you and study film, if you have any weaknesses they will be exploited ruthlessly. An unknown can get away with a lot. As a Rocket fan I have hope that Lin will thrive, but the chances are he will never play in a single NBA All-Star game.
posted by bukvich at 1:28 PM on July 19, 2012


Won't someone thing think of the poor NY headline writers! How may jobs are going to lost at the NYP over this? Oh the huge manatee!!!!
posted by MikeMc at 1:53 PM on July 19, 2012


Damn, ESPN. Obsessed much?
Six Degrees of Separation: Jeremy Lin
The Family | The Knicks | The Rockets | The Poison Pill | The Financials | The Lin Camp
posted by acidic at 2:33 PM on July 19, 2012


Metafilter: The anals of American professional sports are filled with flashes-in-the-pan and one-year-wonders
posted by Renoroc at 3:16 PM on July 19, 2012


Yao was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the # 1 pick in the 2002 draft so his choices were to sign with the Rockets or sit out.

Right, but I'd have been surprised if the Bucks, for example, had picked him and he wound up in Milwaukee rather than his handlers forcing a trade to a better market.

chances are he will never play in a single NBA All-Star game.

I hope that doesn't turn out to be the case. I enjoy Lin's approach to the game, and I want to see him do his pre-game ritual with a teammate at the All Star game.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:50 PM on July 19, 2012


The anals of American professional sports are filled

I blame the Packers.
posted by pracowity at 1:05 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, but I'd have been surprised if the Bucks, for example, had picked him and he wound up in Milwaukee rather than his handlers forcing a trade to a better market.

I too would be shocked if a Chinese superstar ended up playing for the Bucks after getting drafted by them.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2012


Yeah, but note the considerable effort it took on the part of the Bucks to get him to sign with them, and the fact that his team specifically warned the Bucks not to pick him. :-)
posted by lord_wolf at 2:25 PM on July 20, 2012


Very true, I and I pretty much agree with your original point. Just couldn't help it!
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:06 PM on July 20, 2012


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