Jeremy Lin transformed Madison Square Garden last season from a desperate wasteland to a hopeful pack of frenzied fans. He would be foolish to leave his celebrity following behind, but the Houston Rockets are doing their best to woo him away from New York City's bright lights.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Rockets have offered Lin a three-year, $31 million deal wrought with back-loaded cash and a player option for a fourth year.
Yesterday, Morey showed Lin Houston and took him out for dinner, where he was offered a three-year deal with a fourth-year player option that would total at least $31 million. The first two years are at $5 million and $5.2 million with the backloaded “poison pill’’ coming in the third and fourth years, when the salary was to jump to about $10.5 million to create luxury-tax hardship for the Knicks.
You can't blame Houston's tactics. They're being smart by not just offering Lin big money, but by strategically making an offer that will hit the cash-strapped Knicks in the long run. Forget that, though.
Lin should make this very easy on the Knicks' brass. He shouldn't sign the offer sheet. I'm sure it's fun to be treated like a king, but he will get the same treatment in New York.
Fans already love him in MSG. After losing Steve Nash, and with the frightening idea of Raymond Felton looming, Knicks' fans will love Lin even more for returning to their team. People still question Lin's long-term potential, but there's no doubting what he did last season.
Lin's presence took the Knicks from pretenders to underrated contenders almost overnight. He reinvigorated a wallowing franchise and injected life back into a disconsolate fanbase. He even has a name for his following ("Linsanity"). How many players can claim that?
On top of New York's obvious appeal lies Lin's history with Houston and head coach Kevin McHale. Lin was cut by the Rockets just 12 days into training camp. That led him to his unlikely rise in New York.
Without Houston's misjudgment, there wouldn't have been any "Linsanity." He shouldn't dream of giving the Rockets a chance to right their wrongs.
Lin fits New York's offensive scheme like a glove, and he fits the city's media frenzy. He's proven he can handle the pressure of playing in the world's largest media market.
He would be remiss to leave New York. Feeling jealousy over the team's heavy pursuit of Nash would be childish and unwise in the long run.
With Nash off the board, there's no way to question Lin's role with the Knicks next year. He is their starter, if he will have them, and he should keep it that way.
Lin could sign the offer sheet, force the Knicks to match and eventually decide to return. Instead, he should make the process easier for everyone involved.
Give Houston a thanks, but no thanks, and return to the city that craves your play on the court. It's a very simple decision.