Both the Rockets and Knicks realize signing Lin is more than just a basketball move. It's tapping into a huge market hungry for basketball.
As the first Chinese-American to make it to the NBA, Lin's success created a huge following of Asian-Americans and those of Asian descent throughout the world.
Houston is no stranger to the impact of a global audience and a formerly untapped market. Yao Ming's emergence for the Rockets took basketball to corners of the world where it had never been experienced before.
While the Asian markets are a huge financial reason for signing Lin, it wasn't just his heritage that made his rise to fame so glorified. The story of an often overlooked, often rejected player's rise to glory over a matter of weeks epitomized the American dream.
"Linsanity" rivaled "Tebow-Time" as one of the biggest sports stories of the year. During the Knicks' winning streak, Lin's success brought attention to the NBA regular season unlike any other player has been able to do. Most casual sports fans don't pay attention to the NBA until the playoffs start, so having that many eyes glued to an NBA game during March was huge for the league, and especially the Knicks.
A losing streak, coaching change, and knee injury ended Linsanity not much longer after it began, but the prospect of Lin's future is extremely bright.
While he wasn't always perfect or often pretty, Lin showed his potential and his worth as a project point guard to be groomed accordingly. Lin is definitely worth a good amount of cash, as the NBA has become a league of point guards, at least during the regular season.
With the Knicks matching the offer sheet, Lin will be back in New York and likely working with Jason Kidd. If both of those rumors turn out to be true, it'd be the best case scenario that Lin could have hoped for this offseason. The Rockets will have raised the price of his salary, he will return to the team with which he blossomed and will be able to learn from one of the greatest point guards of all time.
So while signing Lin is a huge basketball move for the Knicks, it's also a huge move for the already immensely popular franchise. There might not be a return of Linsanity, but if Lin can build on the potential he showed last season, he can become a good player on a contending Knicks team.