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2012 Free Agency, Latest News, NBA / Jul 17, 2012 / 4:40 pm

Report: Jeremy Lin Will Be A Houston Rocket

Howard Beck of the New York Times has the report of the day, that the debate over the merits of keeping or releasing Jeremy Lin is officially over: his career in New York is finished, and he will play for the Houston Rockets next season.

If you had told us, or really anyone, that this would be the case two weeks ago, we probably would have slapped you silly. It was all but assured that Lin would remain a Knick in light of Linsanity and Mike Woodson’s constant assurances that he would be the Knicks’ starting point guard next season. Even Carmelo Anthony was saying that he wanted Lin back, and Jason Kidd admitted that he came to New York in part to tutor Lin.

We debated the issue earlier today, and yesterday, and we’ll probably keep haggling over this decision along with everyone else until the season starts. But the $14.9 million in year three of the offer sheet proved a little too pricey, so Raymond Felton will now have to be the answer at point guard. Here’s more on the Knicks’ thinking:

“The Knicks are not expected to announce their decision until this evening, and there is still a chance — albeit incredibly small — that it could be reversed. But as of 4 p.m. the decision had been made and was considered final by those with knowledge of the deliberations. Indeed, the deliberations were said to be over.

The Knicks have first-refusal rights on Lin and by rule have until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time to either match the offer or let him walk.

The decision was ultimately financial, not emotional. The contract with Houston includes a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks another $35 million or more in luxury-tax penalties had they matched the deal. The so-called poison pill was designed to dissuade the Knicks.”

For Lin, who seemingly expected the Knicks to match whatever offer, this whole situation became depressingly ironic – Lin knew he could seek the most possible money elsewhere because he’d be a Knick anyway. This past CBA hoped to curtail rampant ownership spending and keep teams together, but Daryl Morey swooped in and used an oft-ignored CBA quirk, the “poison pill” contract, to hamstring New York. And now, two sides that never wanted to part must do so. Here’s more from Howard Beck on how Morey outsmarted everyone:

“The Knicks wanted to keep Lin, but his situation was complicated. Because he was a restricted free agent, the Knicks had the right to match any offer. Yet under N.B.A. cap rules, they could offer him no more than $16.13 million in a three-year deal, and a maximum of $28.75 million over five years. Only a rival team was allowed to include the third-year balloon payment.

So it was up to Lin to set his own market value, by getting an outside offer. He initially agreed with Houston on a three-year, $19.5 million deal, including a $9.3 million balloon payment in the third year. That deal was agreed to in principle but never signed.

When it became apparent that the Knicks would match, the Rockets increased the third-year salary to $14.9 million, close to the maximum allowed. The Knicks are already expected to be over the luxury-tax threshold, so Lin’s salary would have cost them tens of millions more under the league’s more punitive new system.”

Many will still clamor that the Knicks could have kept Lin, using the so-called “stretch” provision in the CBA which would have allowed them to spread out the $15 million cap hit over three years when releasing Lin. That is, there would have been five years of dead cap space three years after Lin’s released. But the Knicks decided otherwise, and Linsanity will now have to operate out of Houston.

Was this a good move by New York?

Follow Dylan on Twitter at @DylanTMurphy.

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