The huge contract the Rockets offered Lin will reportedly not be matched by New York; and Smith says that’s not a bad thing.
Houston has offered Lin a “poison pill” deal that would have the star earning only $5 million in the first season and $5.2 million in the second, but the kicker comes in the second half of the deal.
Where the Rockets hurt New York is in the third year of the contract, when Lin will be scheduled to make $14.8 million. With the luxury tax issues and expensive roster as-is for the Knicks, matching Houston’s offer sheet on Lin would kill them financially in the long-run.
Smith told Sports Illustrated about Lin’s departure:
I'm sure the city would love to have him back, but the team decided to go in a different direction. It's nothing personal, I don't think, just business. We just hope everybody can benefit from here.
I don't really know how Mr. Dolan [owner James Dolan] feels at this point with what the luxury tax is now and what it used to be, but I just hope it works out the best for both of them.
While I have never been one to think of JR Smith as the smartest player in the NBA, the points he makes are valid.
There is no denying that the Knicks would be better with Lin on the floor, but the team must weigh how much better they are with the PG against how much money the young player would make. Add in his injuries, and the price in the third year of the contract would be devastating to New York’s finances.
With Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire eating up a vast majority of the team’s salary-cap space already, Lin’s contract would keep the team from signing the complimentary pieces needed to make a run at a title.
In this game of contract chicken, Houston won.
And why not? The Rockets have the salary cap space and the lack of an elite point guard to make this deal happen no matter what the cost was. We also can’t forget that Houston knows about the international appeal of Asian players (see Yao Ming) and would like to have that audience back.
As much as it hurts Knicks fans to hear this, they are better off letting the star walk away than getting suckered into matching this deal.
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