HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It appears we’ve seen the last of Jeremy Lin in a Knicks uniform.
The New York Times is reporting that Knicks’ brass has made their decision and they will not match back-loaded the three-year, $25.1 offer sheet from the Houston Rockets that Lin signed over the weekend.
The Knicks have until just before the stroke of midnight to make up their minds, but according to Howard Beck of The Times, they’ve all but made their decision:
The Knicks are not expected to announce their decision until this evening, and there is still a chance — albeit incredibly small — that it could be reversed. But as of 4 p.m. the decision had been made and was considered final by those with knowledge of the deliberations. Indeed, the deliberations were said to be over.
The Knicks have first-refusal rights on Lin and by rule have until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time to either match the offer or let him walk.
The decision was ultimately financial, not emotional, according to people briefed on the deliberations. The contract with Houston includes a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks another $35 million or more in luxury-tax penalties had they matched the deal. The so-called poison pill was designed to dissuade the Knicks.
The decision ends two weeks of suspense and speculation, which began when Lin became a restricted free agent on July 1. Now will come the inevitable backlash.
Lin saved the Knicks’ season in February and instantly became their most popular player in a decade, as well as a global phenomenon. Fans started at least two online petitions to keep him last weekend when it became apparent the Knicks were leaning toward letting him go. Twitter, blogs and fan forums have been filled with anguished comments for days.
Whatever outrage there is New York will be met with cheers from Houston, where the Rockets have been searching for a face of their franchise since Yao Ming retired.
Lin proved in his 25-game starting stint on Broadway that he had the chops for the job under the brightest of media spotlights. In Houston he’ll have to prove that there is substance behind the hype.
If his debut was any indication, the next three years should be a wild ride … on Rockets fans will enjoy from the front row and one Knicks fans will have to watch from afar, wondering what might have been had the franchise matched that offer.