Jeremy Lin ’10 is in the news again. After leaving the USA Select Team to focus on his restricted free agency, the former Crimson guard visited the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Lin reportedly walked away from that meeting having signed an offer-sheet worth $30 million over the next four years. The deal would be worth a combined $10.2 million in the first two years and then $9.3 million each of the last two years.
Despite Lin’s potentially considerable contributions on the court, much of this bidding war is being driven by his appeal as an ambassador to the Asian-American community – a largely untapped NBA fan base that exploded during Lin’s extended run last season. The Rockets already have a connection to the Asian fan base, having been the home to Yao Ming for most of the last decade, and may be pursuing Lin in order to extend that popularity. Regardless of the motivations, Lin’s appeal makes him more valuable to a franchise than a player of comparable playing ability.
This news of Lin signing the offer sheet comes a day after grizzled veteran Jason Kidd agreed to what appears to be a sign-and-trade deal that will move him from the Dallas Mavericks to the cavernous confines of Madison Square Garden. The decision does not appear to have any bearing on whether or not the Knicks sign Lin, and Kidd is expected to serve a role as a mentor to Lin as they share the backcourt.
The stars seem to be aligning in New York, but it is not without cost. Assuming both the Kidd and Lin deals go through on July 11 – the first day teams can actually sign players to new contracts – the Knicks will have $77 million locked up for just six players, three of whom will be 30 when the season starts up again in late October (Kidd 39, Tyson Chandler 30, and Amare Stoudemire 30). The league salary cap is roughly $58 million, meaning the Knicks will only be able to sign players to league-minimum salaries from here on out, in addition to paying the luxury tax.
The numbers will eventually sort themselves out, but for now we know that Lin will either be spending the next four years in Houston or New York.