Jeremy Lin Going to Houston

Lin heads to Houston after Knicks choose not to match offer

By Josh Alper and AP Reports
|  Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Jeremy Lin is leaving New York and taking Linsanity to Houston.

Jonathan Supranowitz, vice president of communications for the Knicks, confirmed to NBC 4 New York Tuesday the team will not match the three-year, $25.1 million offer that the Rockets extended to Lin as a restricted free agent.

This means that Lin is gone without any compensation less than a month after celebrating an arbitrator's decision that made it easier for him to be re-signed. 

The Rockets made it tough for the Knicks to sign off on keeping him by backloading their offer sheet with a $15 million salary in the third season. If the Knicks agreed to that deal, they would've faced a hefty luxury tax in 2014-15 because of other big contracts on their books — between $30 and 40 million.

Lin now returns to Houston, where he spent about two weeks in December during training camp. The Rockets liked what they saw in the undrafted point guard, but had to waive him because they had Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic on the roster.

The decision has already been met with howls on Twitter: Knicks fans are not buying the idea that having to pay a $14.8 million salary in Lin's third year is any reason to jettison one of the most exciting things to happen to the Knicks in the four decades since their last championship. The Knicks point guards will now be Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni next season, a group that doesn't quite make up in talent what they lack in the ability to become a global phenomenon.

It's fair that they would feel upset about Lin going back to Houston to increase that third year, but adults can get past such things and make decisions without worrying too much about their feelings getting hurt. The Knicks won't say that's the reason they made the choice, but they don't need to, since any attempt to spin it as a financial decision dies thanks to the two third-year options mentioned above.

And that's all assuming you actually need to rid yourself of Lin at this point in time. We don't know -- and can't know -- what kind of player he will be when those decisions need to be made. But we do know that it is a risk the Knicks can afford financially.

The Knicks gave Lin his first shot, picking him up after the Rockets waived him. He was briefly demoted to the developmental league, recalled and finally got his chance when coach Mike D'Antoni put him in with the Knicks floundering at 8-15. Lin scored a career-high 25 points in a 99-92 win over New Jersey Nets and "Linsanity" was born.

Lin had slept on teammate Landry Fields' couch the night before, still refusing to get his own place as he headed into that week, knowing the Knicks would have to decide whether to cut him or guarantee his contract for the rest of the season.

But Lin proved more than just an overnight sensation — he had 28 and 23 points in his first two NBA starts, and then scored a career-high 38 in a 92-85 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The stock price for Madison Square Garden Inc. surged on the production and popularity of the team's international star. Lin also made the Sports Illustrated cover in consecutive weeks, only the 12th athlete to hold that distinction since 1990. On Tuesday, Lin had more than 829,000 followers on Twitter. 

But, hey, there's a bright side. The Knicks can use all that money they're saving on luxury tax to make sure that Kidd has a car and driver with him at all times.

Seriously, though, the only bright side is that the Knicks are just as close to winning a championship right now as they would be with Lin in the lineup. As long as you ignore the fact that the answer in both cases is not very close at all, that's a positive spin to put on things.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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