Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 7/13/12


Fresh off his ESPY award win for "Best Breakthrough Athlete," Jeremy Lin was at the Houston Rockets' summer league headquarters earlier today to sign a highly anticipated offer sheet.

As anticipated as the contract itself may have been by the Knicks, the terms are certain to take the team for a loop.

Instead of the widely reported $28.8 million, four year offer Lin was expected to receive, the Harvard grad instead signed a pact for three years, worth $25.5 million. Though he is still scheduled to earn $5 million in the first year of the contract, and $5.2 million in the second, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN New York that the third year (now an expiring one) of Lin's contract will be worth a whopping $14.8 million.

For weeks, there has been talk about the Rockets slipping the Knicks a poison pill in relation to Lin's offer sheet. To me, paying anywhere near that much money (be it $25 million or $29 million, it really doesn't make a difference) is still unwarranted granted Lin's limited (as remarkable as it may have been) time on the court. After "Linsanity" begin to tone itself down as New York's other stars returned to play, Lin ultimately took some time finding his rhythm before getting hurt. Thus, it's difficult to know for certain what kind of production the Knicks will see from him on a consistent basis.

Having said that, it's easy to understand that in addition to his skills, Lin's value is boosted by his popularity and ongoing fame. A phenomenon like himself and a massive market like the Big Apple need one another.

With the bit of uncertainty clouding Lin's future production, the three-year deal, coincidentally enough, seems more accommodating to the Knicks.

The first two years of both the earlier reported, and current contract offer, are quite reasonable for a player of Lin's talent, skill, and popularity. The initial contract offer would have bumped Lin's salary up to somewhere near $9 million for each of the latter two seasons. Having not played a full season with his current opportunity as starter, who's to say he'll be worth anywhere close to that amount?

In this newly reported three-yeat deal, Lin still spends two seasons playing for a salary that appears more than reasonable. Even though in the final year of this offer, his salary skyrockets up to $14.8 million, Lin at least becomes more valuable as a larger expiring contract. What's more, the team would only commit to paying him a bloated salary in one season, rather than two.

In addition, though Lin's salary in the last year of the new contract stands to weigh down the Knicks' payroll, so do a number of other players' salaries. Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler (not to mention Jason Kidd and potentially Marcus Camby too) will all be under contract with the Knicks during Lin's final year.

What should that tell Knicks fans? The franchise not only has faith in the players currently on the roster moving forward, they are virtually married to these players through three years anyway. Barring any substantial trade, the Knicks are going to roll with the present core.

With so many larger salaries already on the payroll, the team can't possibly be holding any legitimate hopes to earn cap flexibility following the second year of Lin's contract. Paying him more doesn't appear to solely affect the team's potential improvement, rather just propels them to the luxury tax.

By moving forward with a "win now" mentality, however, the Knicks had to be aware that paying the tax may have been a "consequence." With so many fans hungry for success, the franchise may just have to embrace the fact that the team plays in a big market and bite the bullet.
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