TAIPEI — New York Knicks restricted free agent guard Jeremy Lin has agreed to a four-year, US$28.8 million deal with the Houston Rockets, Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday.
Citing unnamed league sources, the sports news site said the backloaded offer will pay Lin US$5 million in the first year, US$5.2 million in the second year, and US$9.3 million in each of the last two seasons.
Lin is not allowed to sign the offer sheet until July 11. The Knicks will then have three days to either match or raise the offer.
Although matching the offer will subject the team to the luxury tax penalty resulting from exceeding the salary cap, the Knicks are expected to match any offer Lin receives because whatever they pay Lin “could still be well worth the cost,” according to the report.
“Besides Lin’s promise as an NBA point guard, his ability to drive revenue for the Knicks — both regionally and internationally — is unprecedented for a player with such a limited body of work,” the report said.
The 23-year-old American-born player of Taiwanese descent exploded to global stardom after he unexpectedly led a winning streak by the Knicks in February this year. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games and 25 starts before his season ended in late March with a knee injury.
The waves of “Linsanity” not only drove up the sales of Knicks merchandise and apparel but also helped the team score its highest TV ratings in years. Meanwhile, a report of the Rockets’ blog site, citing a person familiar with the matter, said the Rockets “are not optimistic” that the Knicks will let Lin go but wanted to give them that chance.
The Rockets waived Lin last December after 12 days in training camp, partly because they had Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry in the position.
Dragic has agreed to sign with the Phoenix Suns, while Lowry has been traded to the Toronto Raptors.
Also Thursday, ESPN.com said 10-time All Star Jason Kidd has decided to leave the Dallas Mavericks to join the Knicks and “take on the challenge of trying to help the Knicks move into the Eastern Conference elite and mentor fans’ darling Jeremy Lin.”
According to The New York Times, the most the Knicks can offer 39-year-old Kidd is US$9.7 million over three years, by using the so-called mini-midlevel exception. The Knicks, however, could pay him more through a sign-and-trade arrangement with Dallas, the report said. “His days as an elite point guard are over. The Knicks simply hope he can provide quality minutes every night, whether as Lin’s backup or as the starter,” the daily said.