While both Lin and the Knicks are hoping for a reunion, sources say that if any clubs offer Lin, a restricted free agent, a backloaded contract that pays him an eight-figure salary in the third and fourth years, the Knicks could be given pause about matching the offer.
With the new collective bargaining agreement employing a more punitive luxury tax, beginning in the 2013-14 season, the Knicks are extremely concerned about the financial ramifications of such a deal.
The Knicks can offer Lin a four-year deal worth $24.5 million. But an opposing team can offer Lin a backloaded deal that could go as high as $40 million over four years. Such a contract would pay Lin $5 million in each of the first two years and then go as high as $15 million in each of the last two years.
Matching a contract like that would give the Knicks four players—Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler—making more than $14 million in the 2014-2015 season.
Those four players alone would have a combined salary of $72 million, nearly $2 million above the luxury tax.
If that's the case, the Knicks would have to allow Lin to walk. If he does, here's a look at his top potential suitors.
If any team would offer Lin a 'Linsane" contract that would pay him over $14 million in three years, it might be the Raptors.
Toronto has been linked to Lin in the past and could at least put the Knicks in a very difficult spot.
The Suns could lose Steve Nash, and even though they drafted North Carolina's Kendall Marshall in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, there is one thing that's missing from the Suns roster—star power.
Lin certainly has that and would create a buzz in the desert.
Phoenix has the cap space and could definitely jump into the mix for Lin's services.
New Magic general manager Rob Hennigan needs to make a splash and keep the fans interested. Making a run at Lin could do exactly that.
It's a long shot as there are a ton of bad contracts on the Orlando roster already and Hennigan would prefer to build through the draft. But it could be a roll of the dice worth taking.
Mark Cuban has proven that he will spend money in order to give his team a chance to compete. If they lose out on the Deron Williams sweepstakes, the Mavs become a team desperately in need of a point guard.
Cuban has been known to take a risk or two and Lin could be in his sights as a worst-case scenario.