HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It appears something is finally about to go Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s way this offseason.
A few weeks after pre-draft maneuvering did not help the Rockets land the coveted trade deal for All-Star center Dwight Howard, it seems the Rockets may end up with New York Knicks restricted free agent point guard Jeremy Lin. The Knicks stunned everyone late Saturday night when they completed a sign-and-trade deal that will bring them point guard Raymond Felton, which all but has the Rockets front office believing Lin will be heading to Houston when the New York declines to match their three-year, $25 million offer sheet to the one-year sensation.
It appears after a week of vowing to match the Rockets original offer sheet that would have been $28 million over four years, the Knicks have decided the current back loaded deal Houston is offering may be too steep to match. According to reports, the Rockets will pay Lin $5 million in the first season, $5.225 in the second and then it jumps to $14.9 million in the final year of the contract.
It’s likely the Rockets are way overpaying for the rights to acquire Lin, but as one front office worker in their front office said, “that is the culture we are in so that is what we have to do.”
Lin, who burst on the scene with the Knicks last season after being cut by both the Golden State Warriors and Rockets in the preseason, made just $788,000 last year. But he became a coveted commodity after single-handedly taking over for the Knicks during a stretch this past season when both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were out with injuries.
Lin’s impact on the court was so great that the term Linsanity was bor. He played in 35 games for the Knicks, making 25 starts while averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists. But there were times when the Harvard graduate seemed unstoppable knocking down outside shots, penetrating to the hole and most importantly setting his teammates up for open looks.
His game and the ability to market Lin as a high-performing Asian-American NBA player made it seem likely the Knicks would match any offer sheet he was signed to. But the back-end of the deal makes it hard for the Knicks who also have the contracts of Tyson Chandler, Anthony and Stoudemire to deal with.
The Knicks still have not said whether or not they will match the Rockets offer, but after recently acquiring veteran Jason Kidd and not Felton it just seems unlikely they would keep three point guards on the roster. Felton, who once played for the Knicks, also comes with a much cheaper price tag with a reported three-year, $10 deal.
New York finally received the Rockets offer sheet on Saturday night, which now means the organization has until 10:59 (central time) on Tuesday night to match the offer or Lin officially becomes a Rocket.