Jeremy Lin Spurns New York Knicks for Houston Rockets

By Christopher Gamble

The saga that has surrounded Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks has taken another inexplicable turn over the weekend.  Last week, Lin had signed a four-year, $28 million deal with $19 million guaranteed with the Houston Rockets.  The Knicks immediately came out and said they would match the offer sheet.  However, that offer sheet was never delivered to Knicks brass, leaving the Knicks to wonder just what was going on.

Well, apparently, Lin, unhappy about the Knicks saying they would match the offer sheet, flew out to Las Vegas to meet with Rockets officials.  Lin then signed a new offer sheet, a three-year, back-loaded, and fully guaranteed $25 million deal.  The third year of Lin’s deal would see him be paid $14.9 million and would cost the Knicks about $58.3 million in 2014-15 when luxury tax penalties are factored in.

The Knicks are expected to be over the NBA’s luxury tax threshold for three straight years by 2014-15 which would force the Knicks to pay a ridiculous luxury tax for retaining Lin.  The way the luxury tax system works like this:  If all of Lin’s 2014-15 salary ($14.9 million) is over the threshold then the first $5 million would be taxed at a 2.5:1 ratio.  The second $5 million would be taxed at a 2.75:1 ratio.  And, finally, the final $4.9 million would be taxed at a ludicrous 3.5:1 ratio.  That would mean the tax on Lin would equate to $43.4 million and the entire bill for their starting point guard, assuming he was able to even hold that job, would be $58.3 million.

Maybe Carmelo Anthony was right when he called the deal “ridiculous” on Sunday.  Even J.R. Smith indicated Lin’s contract wouldn’t go over well in Knicks locker room.  However, the fact of the matter remains, Jeremy Lin wanted out of New York.  Why else would he have renegotiated his offer sheet with the Rockets after the Knicks said they would match the first one, especially with such a poison pill in the final year?  Maybe Lin was not fond of playing with Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire.

In the meantime, the Knicks went out and reacquired point guard Raymond Felton and power forward/center Kurt Thomas from the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Dan Gadzuric and Jared Jeffries in a sign-and-trade deal.  Felton will pair with the recently signed, and recently arrested for driving while intoxicated, Jason Kidd at point guard.  Thomas will join Tyson Chandler, newly reacquired Marcus Camby, and Stoudemire in the frontcourt.

The Knicks certainly added quite a few names to their roster, albeit older ones, but might have lost out on the best thing to happen in Madison Square Garden since Patrick Ewing was around.  Lin lit up New York like he was Walt Frazier, Patrick Ewing, and Willis Reed all rolled into one.  He electrified the city with “Linsanity” and became a huge marketing tool for the Knicks.  Now, he is gone.  Something drove him from New York.  Could it just be he wished to return to Houston, the team that cut him before he was picked up by the Knicks last season?  Was he unhappy with the Knicks locker room?  Was he upset at ownership?  The coaching staff?  Or was it something else altogether?  Perhaps things aren’t as rosy in the Garden as we think.  We may never know but one thing looks like it is certain, “Linsanity” is done in New York.

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