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With this season done, will Jeremy Lin be a Knick next season?

Apr 1, 2012, 10:59 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

Now what, Jeremy Lin?

I don’t mean the next six weeks — that is surgery and rehab for the torn meniscus in his knee. He’ll work hard with the hopes of joining the Knicks in the playoffs. But by the time he is back and able to really help, it may well be too late.

But that’s not what I’m talking about, I am talking about next season — Lin could leave the Knicks.

He could. But he won’t. The Knicks will overpay to keep him. However, Lin will have some options (we like to call that leverage) and those will put more money in his pocket. And every dollar he gets will make it harder for the Knicks to make upgrades this offseason.

Allow me to explain (if you want a more detailed explanation, Knickerblogger has it). Lin is on a one-year deal so Lin’s contract is up and he will be a restricted free agent this summer. Other teams can make him an offer. Here’s where it gets tricky: Because Lin was waived before he came to the Knicks, New York does not have his “early Bird rights,” meaning it can’t go over the salary cap to sign him. And the Knicks are already over the cap for next season.

The best offer the Knicks can make is 125 percent of the $762,195 he made this year — basically $1 million. If that is all it costs to steal Lin you could be sure a number of teams would swoop in with better offers. Lin has established himself as an NBA point guard (we can debate if he should start or be a backup, but he belongs in the league) and the going rate for a decent point guard is a lot more than $1 million.

However, the Knicks have other options and most likely the team will use either their bi-annual exception ($2 million) or some portion of their mid-level exception (up to $5 million) to keep him. Under the CBA no other team could offer Lin more than $5 million for next season, so the Knicks can offer just as much and it’s unlikely he would leave.

But whatever exception money the Knicks use on Lin they cannot use to bring in other free agents. For example Steve Nash as the starting point guard (who they may struggle to get anyway as they just canned the coach he liked to play for), or a backup big man, or a host of other players out on the market. Those exceptions are the key way the Knicks can upgrade the roster but they will have to spend part of it on Lin.

The Knicks will do it. If it costs $5 million to keep Lin they would do it. Not because it’s the right basketball move — they would be overpaying him at that price — but because it’s the right business move. Lin is a marketing force. He draws sponsors, and sells tickets and jerseys. Even if Linsanity has cooled off he is a hot international marketing tool. The NBA is a business and at whatever price the Knicks can pay they will get it back many times over by having Lin on the roster.

So Jeremy Lin will almost certainly be a Knick next year. But we will have to wait and see how much that impacts the rest of the Knicks roster next season.

  1. blacksonvillegaguars - Apr 1, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    “Under the CBA no other team could offer Lin more than $5 million for next season, so the Knicks can offer just as much and it’s unlikely he would leave.”

    how is it that no team can offer Lin more than $5 million for next season? sucks for Lin, stupid move if NBPA agreed to it, genius move for the owners.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 3, 2012 at 3:22 AM

      It’s called the Gilbert Arenas rule, and Larry Coon gave me the $5 million figure.

  2. midnite2020 - Apr 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    please ok spare the theatrics lin is as good as stuck he’s bringing in more money then amare and melody combined they won’t let there golden goose of the hook

  3. LPad - Apr 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    So paying your starting pg, whose the fourth best player on your team, under 25, and gives you 16 and 6 a game, $5 mil a year is overpaying?

  4. scooper15928 - Apr 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    They will definitely have to pay the whole 5 million. But what makes it even more interesting is, if they use their whole MLE to re-sign Lin, doesn’t that mean Fields, Novak, Davis and Jeffries, who are also free agents could all leave? Novak and Jeffries might except small contracts, but Fields definitely wants to make more than 750K next year. Lin isn’t just keeping the Knicks from signing new guys by demanding a bigger contract, but actually would be hurting them.

  5. canehouse - Apr 1, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Guess it’s back to the Couch!? What a ride it was for him… now can we all say footnote and move on!

  6. sbs0311 - Apr 1, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    It is beyond me how anyone can look at the salaries of starting PGs in this league (when not on rookie scale contracts) and say a $5 M starting salary is overpaying. Reserve and role players get the full MLE from contenders (look at what the Lakers handed to Steven Blake).

    The mechanics of this article are correct, but the idea that a longterm deal at $5 M per is overpaying Lin is silliness. A three-year deal with a starting salary at $5 M could turn into a bargain.

    We’ve seen Lin be an 18 and 8 guy as a starter in his first extended action. Do you know what his ceiling is? C’mon.

  7. rickeye9 - Apr 1, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    fields has bird rights, so they can go over the cap for him, FYI

  8. leearmon - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    If Lin at $5 million is overpaying, then what is Calderon at 10.5 mill? Or Rodney Stuckey at 8.5? Jameer Nelson at 7.8, Mike Conley at 7.1. Devin Harris at 8.5? Even Steve Blake at 4 million! – The last four all on playoff teams.

    Its clear that you have some weird bias against the Knicks, but to say Lin will be overpaid at 5 million when looking at those numbers (and there are others that are bad too) is a joke. And questioning if he’s even a starter at this level? He has a TS% of .552 and a PER of 19.9 all in his second year. Compare that to the top point guard taken in his same draft class (John Wall) and your case becomes laughable at best. Not to mention, New York is a pretty deep team, and considering how well they have drafted lately, especially in the second round (They don’t have their first in the upcoming draft) there won’t be many needs to address. I could get into the per 36 numbers of Jorts or Jerome Jordan (Both back up bigs) but im pretty sure it would go over more than a few heads.

  9. clifford84 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    The kid is 23 and is already better than half the starting PGs in the league. $5 million is UNDERpaying him.

    I’m a lot more worried about retaining guys like Novak than I am about giving Jeremy Lin $5 million.

  10. rob0527 - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Why all the worry? The Knicks r going to resign him, because he is there point guard of the future, and 5mil is not a lot of money. The problem arises when the Knicks try to resign a lot of the other guys who is going to be free agents. How about Novak, Davis, and other guys they got at bargain prices for this year. This is what makes off season so interesting. Hope they keep everyone, this team could do some damage with full training camp and regular rest.

  11. vikingsinla - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Lin will sell many times more than $5 million worth of NBA jerseys to Asians and Christians, regardless of how well he plays. The Knicks will pay him to make sure its their jersey the Asians and Christians are paying for.

    • clifford84 - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      They’ll pay him $5 million because he’s really good at basketball.

      • vikingsinla - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        How good he is at basketball <<<<< How many jerseys/shoes/napkins he'll incite people to buy

      • jolink653 - Apr 2, 2012 at 10:17 AM

        napkins? i don’t exactly see how you wound up lumping jerseys shoes and napkins together lol but i agree with you that one major reason to keep him is the money he will bring in for the knicks via endorsements and sales

  12. gmsingh - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Lin will be given more attention (and more money) than he’s worth in the same way that Tebow has been given more attention than he’s worth.

  13. inthearex - Apr 1, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Kurt is one of the biggest anti ny pos blogger out there.

  14. cluelessdufus - Apr 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    too big of a distraction let him walk and find himself as a backup or worse

  15. indyseriesnick - Apr 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    tebow:Denver to NYC
    Lin: NYC to Denver???

  16. cluelessdufus - Apr 1, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    too big of a distraction let him walk and find himself as a backup or worse never as great just had some bursts

  17. cubs103years - Apr 1, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Nets would be a good option because d will is leaving and they need a big hype player to add to their inexpiierienced roster

  18. anthonyp54 - Apr 1, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Knicks do not have to over pay for Lin … Teams can NOT over bid for Lin on this contract he falls under the “Gilbert Areans” rule … They’ll be able to sign him for 1.5 or 2 mil max!

  19. anthonyp54 - Apr 1, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Lin falls under the “Gilbert Arenas” rule teams cant over bid for LIn there for Knicks can keep him for around 2mil

  20. bknowledge - Apr 1, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Knicks are put together like that car that Homer Simpson designed…

  21. dysraw1 - Apr 1, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    dont get me wrong i like J Lin even though Tony Parker lit him up like a candle.but ive always wanted to see Eric Bledsoe in a knick jersey.

  22. blsessex - Apr 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    The Knicks have two overpaid players in Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire.

  23. anhdazman - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:02 AM

    5 Million for a starting PG, that’s better than 1/2 of the starting PG in the league is a bargain. No doubt Lin can play in this league and almost everyone would expect his game to improve. In the past, multiple teams under estimated his talent, skills, and upside. The Knicks would be foolish to lose Lin.
    As for Lin, I’m sure he’d like to stay in NY, but if D’Antoni signs on as Head Coach on for another NBA team, I’m sure he’d like to reunite with a coach that elevated his game to a whole new level.

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