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Report: Knicks could lose Jeremy Lin to a backloaded contract offer

Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks The Knicks could balk at matching an offer sheet for point guard Jeremy Lin if it is heavily backloaded. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Jeremy Lin's return to the Knicks is not a sure thing.

ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Sunday how the Knicks could feasibly lose Lin, a restricted free agent. From the report:

While both Lin and the Knicks are hoping for a reunion, sources say that if any clubs offer Lin, a restricted free agent, a backloaded contract that pays him an eight-figure salary in the third and fourth years, the Knicks could be given pause about matching the offer.

With the new collective bargaining agreement employing a more punitive luxury tax, beginning in the 2013-14 season, the Knicks are extremely concerned about the financial ramifications of such a deal.

That type of contract is known around the NBA as a "poison pill" deal, which backloads a good chunk of the money on the contract. The Houston Rockets' reported deal with restricted free agent Omer Asik — in which Asik will make $15 million in the third year of the deal — is a good example.

Broussard pegs the Toronto Raptors as "perhaps the only team" that would think about offering Lin such a contract. But for now, they have their sights set on Steve Nash, and have offered him a contract that would pay him $12 million annually, SI's Sam Amick reported Sunday. Broussard also notes that the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets have expressed interest in Lin. Broussard broke down what type of contract could give the Knicks pause:

The Knicks can offer Lin a four-year deal worth $24.5 million. But an opposing team can offer Lin a poison pill that could go as high as $40 million over four years. Such a contract would pay Lin $5 million in each of the first two years and then go as high as $15 million in each of the last two years.

Matching such a contract would give the Knicks four players -- Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler -- making more than $14 million in the 2014-2015 season. Those four players alone would have a combined salary of $72 million, nearly $2 million above the luxury tax.

Lin produced something of a fairy-tale season with the Knicks last year before it ended due to injury. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game, helping to lead the Knicks back into the playoffs.

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