Perhaps gone as quickly as it exploded onto the scene, the Linsanity era may be over in the Big Apple.
According to multiple reports Sunday, the New York Knicks have chosen not to match Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer sheet for popular point guard Jeremy Lin, meaning the next time Lin takes the floor, it would be in a Rockets jersey.
When reached Sunday night by FOXSports.com, a Knicks team spokesman declined to comment on Lin’s status with the team. The Knicks reportedly have until 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday to officially decide whether to match Houston’s offer, though some confusion on the deadline may exist because of the Rockets’ troubles in delivering the offer sheet to the Knicks.
However, in addition to the various reports, New York’s acquisition of former Knicks point guard Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday seems to suggest that the team is ready to move on. The Knicks had also already signed veteran point guard Jason Kidd to a three-year deal earlier in the week.
The move comes as something of a surprise after the way Lin, an undrafted and largely unheralded Harvard grad, took New York by storm last season.
After playing sparingly as a rookie in Golden State and being cut twice during last preseason, Lin rose to prominence with the Knicks after averaging 25.0 points and 9.2 assists in what was supposed to be a stopgap role during his first nine games as a full-time player.
New York went 8-1 during that stretch, and Lin’s overnight popularity, especially among the Asian community, led to a revival of the team’s fan base.
Over the course of 26 games of “Linsanity,” including 25 starts, Lin averaged 18.5 points and 7.7 assists per game, while the Knicks went 16-10. Knee surgery following a torn left meniscus ended Lin’s breakout season prematurely, but the expectation before Sunday was that he’d be back at Madison Square Garden this fall.
Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that Lin’s camp was upset with the Knicks for not “making the first move” when it came to re-signing the 23-year-old guard after his breakout half-season, though at that time the indication was still that New York would match Houston’s offer.
Additionally, Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters in Las Vegas on Wednesday that New York would “absolutely” match the Rockets’ offer once it came in. But that was before Houston reworked Lin’s deal, made it more challenging for an angry New York front office to match and effectively changed the game.
On Sunday, however, the New York Post reported that the Knicks were upset with Lin for reportedly sharing the Knicks’ plans to match Houston’s offer, then plotting to redraft the contract with a higher guaranteed salary. According to the Post, Lin flew to Las Vegas without the Knicks’ knowledge to renegotiate and sign the new offer sheet.
Originally reported to be a four-year, $28 million deal with $19.5 million guaranteed, Lin’s first contract offer was scrubbed Friday for a new deal that would only be three years in length, but with the third year of the $25 million, fully guaranteed deal paying $14.8 million.
Had the Knicks agreed to match Houston’s new offer, New York would have had more than $75 million dedicated to Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler alone for the 2014-15 season — likely putting owner James Dolan in the luxury tax before he even finishes filling out his starting lineup.
Starting with the 2013-14 season, a stiffer new luxury tax will kick in, meaning even steeper bills — some have estimated that Lin alone could end up costing between $25 million and $40 million after luxury taxes in the final year — for taxpaying teams like the Knicks. And in the end it’s likely that tax that led to the Knicks’ decision to pass.
As one of the most marketable guys in the league, Lin could be worth untold millions off the court, and many have pointed out that the Knicks’ market capitalization is up nearly $600 million overall since Lin emerged as a star. But success can also be fleeting, and New York, it seems, isn’t willing to take the gamble on Linsanity coming back for a second act.