|Jeremy Lin will play for the Houston Rockets after the New York Knicks didn't match an offer sheet. (Getty Images)|
Linsanity is headed back to H-town.
The New York Knicks confirmed on Tuesday night that they won't match a 3-year, $25 million Houston Rockets offer sheet to restricted free agent guard Jeremy Lin. As a result, Lin is now a member of the Rockets.
"We are not matching," A Knicks spokesperson told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
The news came a little more than an hour before the 11:59 p.m. deadline that the Knicks faced in making their decision. New York had 72 hours to decide whether or not to match the offer that Houston officially submitted Saturday.
Lin, 23, rose to international prominence after a breakout season with the Knicks. Ironically, his strong play as a starter occurred just months after he was released by the Rockets without playing a game in Houston.
Shortly after the Knicks announced they would not match Houston's offer, Rockets GM Daryl Morey welcomed Lin to the team on his Twitter account (@DMorey).
"Welcome to Houston Jeremy Lin! We plan to hang on this time. You will love Red Nation."
Minutes later, Lin posted his reaction to his Twitter account (@JLin7).
"Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!! Red Nation. Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support this past year...easily the best year of my life."
Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, the Rockets officially announced the acquisition of Lin in a press release.
"We are thrilled to have Jeremy back as part of the Rockets family," said Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander. "In his limited opportunity last season, Jeremy showed that he has all the skills to be a great player in this league for many years to come. In addition to being a great passer, he is also exceptional at driving to the rim and finishing plays. He also showed a poise well beyond his years by making winning plays at the end of numerous games last season. Jeremy is a winner on and off the court and we view him as an important part of our plan to build a championship contender."
On Wednesday, the Rockets released the following statement from Lin.
"I loved this past year with the Knicks and truly appreciate the opportunity that New York gave me," the statement read. "The way the fans fully embraced me and our team was something I'll always cherish forever. It was an extraordinary and unforgettable time that was easily the best year of my life. Now I am excited to be back with the Rockets. They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city. I am also impressed with Mr. Alexander and the management's commitment to improving the team. I'm excited about contributing to the Rockets winning tradition and competing with my new teammates."
Reports started surfacing on Tuesday that New York did not plan to match Houston's offer sheet, which includes a so-called poison pill in its third year that will pay Lin $15 million. New York's front office was miffed at the offer sheet, as the third-year salary was larger than originally expected and the Rockets didn't notify the Knicks of the change in advance. In response, the Knicks played a game of "hide-and-seek" in Las Vegas, refusing to formally accept the offer sheet from a courier for the better part of a day.
Morey lamented Lin's departure after the undrafted Taiwanese-American guard from Harvard exploded to global fame. Lin spent the 2010-11 season with the Golden State Warriors before he was released in December 2011 following the NBA's lockout. He was then picked up briefly by the Rockets, who in turn released him within weeks.
"We should have kept Jeremy Lin," Morey wrote on his Twitter account back in February. "Did not know he was this good. Anyone who says they knew [is] misleading you... Really happy [for] Jeremy Lin. Very hard working, nice, humble. He has a great, great future.
Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists during the 2011-12 season, his first and only with New York. He played just 35 games and underwent season-ending surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus.
After the departures of Goran Dragic, who signed with the Phoenix Suns, and Kyle Lowry, who was traded to the Toronto Raptors, Lin pencils in as Houston's starting point guard.
The Knicks will replace Lin with a point guard trio: Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. Felton was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Portland Trail Blazers and Kidd, who comes over from the Dallas Mavericks, was signed as an unrestricted free agent.