Should the Toronto Raptors give Jeremy Lin a proper send-off?

Toronto Raptors - Jeremy Lin (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Jeremy Lin (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jeremy Lin remains an active free agent but is not generating much buzz. Yet, the Toronto Raptors should consider re-signing Lin and give him the send-off that he deserves.

When the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in six games back in June, many players had finally earned the permanent prefix “NBA Champion” across their player profiles.

Players such as Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol battled their way through years of playoff disappointment and abrupt ends to finally end up as the last men standing. Yet, while he didn’t play but one minute in the NBA Finals, Jeremy Lin earned himself the championship moniker and subsequently earned his place in NBA history.

When Lin joined the Raptors at the trade deadline, there was enthusiasm about his prospects with the team. VanVleet was injured at the time and Lin had a veteran’s pedigree that was often highlighted in his stints with other teams. Moreover, as Toronto is a racially diverse city, Lin could fit right in with the demographics—and perhaps garner more attention as an Asian-American.

Of course, Lin did garner attention—if there are any fans of Kim’s Convenience out there then you’ve surely seen Simu Liu embracing Lin on Twitter — but he also didn’t quite fit in with the Nick Nurse-led system with his abrupt entrance and Nurse’s up-tempo offense. Unfortunately meaning his minutes dwindled and his play was erratic.

Yet, while Lin, of course, doesn’t have the same gumption as he did when Linsanity hit the New York stage, he does have a level of awareness and intelligence that could be solid for other teammates to learn. It is not surprising that the Harvard graduate is so capable of being a smart player.

When free agency opened up, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were big fish to fry. As much as Ujiri and Toronto tried, ultimately, they did not re-sign those two exemplary players. When these meetings were taking place, Lin was simultaneously hitting the free-agent market as well—he just had to wait until the big fish were sold off the market.

With Kawhi and Green having left, the doors to a potential title repeat have closed almost imperceptibly; the light still shines through, but we have to squint to see it. With that being said, Lin could be a good addition to the team that is bolstered with young players and expiring contracts. He’d likely come on a veteran’s minimum deal and he could be regarded as continuity, which is unheard of on a majority of other teams this year.

Considering the re-signing of Lin, however, would be complicated given the sheer number of contracts on the roster. The Raptors are ostensibly gobbling up a lot of unproven players in hopes that they can make a positive contribution on the team, much like how Lin got his start in the league. On the other hand, those players might not be cut out for the NBA and, as we have come to know, Jeremy Lin certainly is even if he is on the wrong side of 30.

There has been a report that Lin might contemplate playing basketball overseas if he doesn’t have good prospects in the NBA. In turn, his branding could grow exponentially and he could play with or against his brother, Joe Lin, who recently won a championship as well.

But, the idea of Lin playing overseas and his legacy in the NBA ending this way doesn’t seem to be deserving of the imprint he left on us as fans. Lin deserves a proper send-off even if it’s playing as a role player on a middling team.

This fact remains true: Lin inspired many, many fans during his tenure with the Knicks. In fact, it might be the most fun the Knicks have had in the last two decades. Lin surprised us with his Rudy-Esque montage of highlights and that deserves to be celebrated.

Perhaps Lin would like to walk away as an NBA champion, and if so, then he should happily go out that way. But, if Lin is walking away because of a lack of prominent offers, then he rightly deserves more. The Raptors are shrewd in their management at times, but this offers a chance to add a veteran leader and highlight the end of a captivating story. Isn’t that worth it?

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If nothing else, he’ll still put butts in the seats and attract All-Star votes, which may never actually fade away. While his play may not rise to the legend of Linsanity that he once was, he’ll always be able to coach intangible skills to his teammates and be a beacon of light in hardship.

That, ultimately, is well worth the price.