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.