Report: Lin headed to Houston

By Chris Duncan

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 17 2012 5:20 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this March 7, 2012 file photo, New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin, left, shoots over San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in San Antonio. This would have been such an easy decision in February. Lin was the biggest thing in basketball, and no way the Knicks would have let him go to Houston.

Darren Abate, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

HOUSTON — Jeremy Lin's incredible run in New York won't have a sequel, according to a published report.

The New York Knicks are not planning to match Houston's offer for Lin, a restricted free-agent, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person briefed on the situation.

The Times said deliberations were over for the Knicks as of Tuesday afternoon, and they had elected — as was widely expected — not to equal the Rockets' three-year, $25 million offer sheet, signed by Lin last Friday. New York officially had until 11:59 EDT to decide whether to re-sign Lin, and The Times cautioned there is an "incredibly small" chance the decision could be reversed. Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan had the final say.

Officials from both teams and Lin's agent would not confirm that any decision was final. The Rockets had not been informed of a decision on Lin, whom they released last year.

It was a move Houston came to regret after Lin electrified Knicks fans — indeed, basketball fans everywhere. The NBA's first American-born player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent, Lin catapulted to stardom last February when he joined a struggling Knicks' lineup and sparked a quick turnaround, averaging 21 points and 8.4 assists along the way.

The Harvard graduate went from sleeping on teammate's couch to becoming the flavor of the month, inspiring catchphrases ("Linsanity") and T-shirt slogans ("All He Does is Lin"), not mention selling out MSG as Taiwan's Tourism Bureau suddenly began advertising on Knicks' radio broadcasts.

On Tuesday, Houston Texans linebacker Connor Barwin seemed ready for the show to move south. "Welcome to Htown (at)JLin7!" he tweeted. "I've got an open couch and a hoop in my living room w/ your name on it."

Lin initially agreed to a four-year offer sheet worth about $28 million with Houston. The Rockets threw a curveball at the Knicks by revising the offer and making it three years and including a guaranteed salary of about $15 million in the third year. If the Knicks agreed to that deal, they'd have to pay a hefty luxury tax in 2014-15 — between $30-40 million

One sports consultant said the adjustment to the offer sheet was a stroke of genius by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

"The Rockets deserve a lot of credit for the way they've gone about this," said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based SportsCorp. "It was extremely intelligent — with an assassin's touch."

Ganis thought the Knicks should swallow the "poison pill" anyway, because of the immeasurable value that Lin added to the franchise internationally. While the Knicks would not directly recoup the luxury-tax hit, Lin would drive higher television ratings and continue to raise the team's profile in Asia, a prosperous market for the NBA since Yao Ming played for the Rockets.

"The Knicks, as important and as relevant as the Knicks' brand is in New York, it became internationally known by adding Jeremy Lin to it," Ganis said. "I can't speak to whether it's a good basketball decision. But from a marketing standpoint, I'd say (letting Lin go is) a very poor decision."

David Schwab, who specializes in matching brands with celebrities as managing director at Octagon First Call, said re-signing Lin was undeniably a gamble. He started only 25 games last season before he was sidelined with torn cartilage in his left knee.

"There's a risk he gets hurt, there's a risk he's not a star, there's a risk that he's not at the same level where he was when he played," Schwab said.

Lin's life has been a whirlwind since last December, when he spent less than two weeks in Rockets' 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.

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