Call it the circle of life. Yup, Jeremy Lin will be back in Rocket red next season. The NBA phenom, who captured America's hearts by pumping life into the moribound New York Knicks earlier this year, is a Houston Rocket (again). Via Twitter, Lin said good-bye to his former team, confirming what New York Times writer Howard Beck reported earlier in the day.
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Less than a year after theRockets cut him from the final roster, Lin is headed back to Houston, only this time as a seasoned veteran. The restricted free agent will be leaving the Big Apple after the Knicks failed to match Houston's offer sheet. Beck offered a quick financial analysis of why New York let him walk:
The short answer: money. Lin signed an offer sheet for three years and $25.1 million with the Rockets, which is reasonable on its face. But the third year contains a balloon payment, or poison pill, of $4.9 million. Because the Knicks will be over the N.B.A.'s luxury-tax threshold, Lin's salary could cost them an additional $35 million or more in penalties paid to the league. As popular as Lin is, and as great as he was in February, it is tough to justify a $50 million bill for a single player, especially one who has started just 25 games.
Even non-basketball fans know that Lin was the unlikely star of the Knicks last season. A former high school standout, Lin was passed over for collegiate scholarships and went on to play for Harvard. Initially drafted by the Rockets, his trade to New York and mid-season performance with the Knicks spawned the term Linsanity as well as a host of other pop culture references. He was the subject of David Letterman's Top Ten List (Top 10 Worst Jeremy Lin Puns) and beat out Kobe and LeBron on jersey sales. A series of 20 and 30 points off the bench had fans and non-fans excited about his igame. The Knicks will surely miss Lin's energy, playmaking, basketball IQ and creative scoring. And New York fans will miss the positivity he brought to the team.
Knicks fans were hoping team management would bite the bullet and cough up the necessary dough to keep Lin in New York. Many of those same folks are secretly hoping Lin proves the Knicks made a shortsighted mistake by giving up on their golden boy. Whatever happens, this young man is a hero to his Taiwanese American tribe, a testament to hard work and dedication and an inspiration to underdogs everywhere.
Now that it's official, we just have to wait to see what happens. Injured at the end of the season, the hope is that Lin's knees have healed and he picks up where he left off. I'm especially looking forward to the Rockets visiting the Garden next year. What do you think? Should the Knicks have kept Lin on their roster? Or did New York make the right business decision?
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