In an absolute stunner, the New York Knicks are reportedly going to refuse to match Houston’s three year, $25 million offer sheet for Jeremy Lin, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports.Spears calls the Knicks odds of retaining Lin, “highly doubtful.”
For the past two weeks, all we’ve heard is that the Knicks will match any and all offers that opposing teams made to Lin.
Houston’s offer is what is known around the league as a “poison pill,” meaning the first two years pay Lin a modest $5 million while the third year plays him a salary cap-crippling $15 million.
The Knicks would have to pay a steep luxury tax bill in that third year if they matched. But then again, Lin is a money-making machine. MSG, which owns the Knicks, has seen its market cap grow by $600 million since “Linsanity” began. $25 million and a bit more in luxury tax penalties seems like a small price to pay for a international marketing phenomenon.
Refusing to keep Lin is also questionable from a basketball point of view.
Last night, NY traded for veteran point guard Raymond Felton, who will replace Lin if the Knicks do indeed refuse to resign him.
Felton had the best stint of his career when he played for the Knicks prior to the Carmelo Anthony trade. But since then he’s been an average to below-average player (11.5 ppg and 6.5 apg), and has struggled with his weight off the court.
Lin played better than Felton last year, and he’s way younger and has way more room to grow. What people tend to forget is that Lin has only played one real NBA season. He’s going to get better by merely playing a full slate of games and getting a feel for the league.
So, to recap, this decision makes little from a basketball point of view, and even less sense from a business point of view. A lot of people are calling Knicks “cheap” this morning, but that isn’t really true considering they’d let the biggest marketing tool in the NBA walk out the door if they refuse to sign his offer sheet.
That leads us to two possible explanations for why the Knicks wouldn’t resign him:
1. They think he’s a fraud. They think he’ll regress to what he was supposed to be (an skinny, unathletic kid from Harvard), rather that what he was (a top-10 NBA point guard). They think he’s going to be worse than big fat Raymond Felton, and that he’ll lose all his marketability once his collapse is complete.
2. It’s a lie and the Knicks are going to resign him. We’ve heard all week that the Knicks are adamant about resigning Lin at any cost. And trading for Felton doesn’t change the team’s ability to keep Lin at all. It makes absolutely zero sense to let Lin walk, and you’ve got to think MSG knows that.
The Knicks have until Tuesday at midnight to sign him or let him walk.
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