Linsanity came to an abrupt, and somewhat surprising, end on July 17 when Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald made a quick call to Jeremy Lin and let him know the Knicks would not match a $25 million offer sheet Lin signed with the Houston Rockets. The Knicks being frugal? What in the name of Jerome James is going on here?
Grunwald, or anyone within the organization, did not make a statement to explain the decision to let one of the Knicks' most valuable assets simply walk away, though the $14.9 million "poison pill" salary in the third year of the deal certainly gave them a good reason.
With harsher luxury tax penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks were facing the potential of paying as much as $40 million for Lin's salary in that third year, with stars Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler also on the payroll.
But for the Knicks, who have never shied away from paying the luxury tax in the past, was it more than just about money? Anthony, for one, called it a "ridiculous contract," and J.R. Smith, who re-signed for a bargain price of $2.8 million, admitted that a young player getting that much money off 25 career starts could cause trouble in the locker room and around the league.
"I think some guys take it personal being they've been doing it longer and haven't received reward for it yet," Smith told SI.com. "I think it's a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys."
All of that aside, what emerged as the biggest issue wasn't money but the manner in which Lin got the money. Reports initially indicated that he agreed to a four-year deal that included a third year at a far more manageable $9.3 million salary and a fourth year that wasn't guaranteed. The Knicks had no trouble matching that.
But then the Rockets brought Lin's representation back to the table and made a second offer that included the "poison pill," and when he signed it, there was a sense that he -- or his agents -- conspired with the Rockets to torpedo the Knicks.
"It wasn't like they gave me the choice to sign one of the two and I chose the one that would hurt the Knicks," Lin told the San Jose Mercury News. "I had one contract offer. That's it."
Still, the organization was resigned to match the offer and deal with the issues later -- the CBA did allow for a "stretch provision" that, if Lin failed to live up to his value, permitted the team to waive Lin and spread that third year over a three-year period, thus lessening the cap and tax hit.
But during the 72-hour period they had to match, Grunwald was able to complete a sign-and-trade deal to land former Knick Raymond Felton. With the tough, experienced veteran point guard in the fold along with veteran Jason Kidd, the Knicks felt less pressure to match the Lin deal.
And just like that, Linsanity, as it was known in New York, was over.
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