Jeremy Lin: Upstart Must Take Less Money to Help New York Knicks

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMay 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03:  Injured point guard Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks looks on from the bench against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin holds the fate of the New York Knicks in his hands.

No, I'm not talking about on the court. I'm talking about off it.

You see, Lin is a restricted free agent this offseason, as every Knicks fan knows and dreads. That means that if another team gives Lin a lucrative offer, the Knicks have to match it or risk losing their up-and-coming point guard.

No big deal, right? You give Lin what he wants because he averaged 18.2 points, 7.7 assists and two steals in 25 starts this season. You don't squabble over a couple million dollars.

Unfortunately for the Knicks, it's much more complicated than that.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 23, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The problem is, given the current cap structure, the Knicks need to sign Lin for $3 million or less if they want to make other moves this offseason, as New York Magazine points out. If Lin demands more than that (say, $5 million), the Knicks will be stuck with a hard cap, meaning they will only have $3 million more to spend on other players. That could potentially see Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and even Landry Fields gone by next season.

Of course, you can't exactly say Lin is being selfish if he asks for a bigger deal. He's been toiling in and out of the league for years, and this is his opportunity to make more than the league minimum. He honestly deserves more than $3 million, even if you just base it on those 25 starts where he single-handedly lifted the Knicks back into playoff contention.

It sets up a very unsettling situation for the Knicks this offseason. After Amar'e Stoudemire's blow-up in the playoffs and the Knicks' indecorous exit, this is the last thing they needed.

The Knicks are in search of stability. The ironic thing is, the man who provided stability during the regular season may be a factor in the Knicks crumbling even more this summer.

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