The Carmelo Anthony free agency sweepstakes moved from Chicago to Houston on Wednesday, and the Rockets' attempts to woo the All-Star forward have apparently rubbed one of their own players the wrong way.
Anthony arrived at the Toyota Center to see images of himself in a Rockets No. 7 jersey. Another image of a mural depicting Anthony wearing a red Rockets jersey while holding the Larry O'Brien trophy with the words, "The key to a championship formula," circulated on Wednesday. Chicago used a similar visual tactic during its pitch to Anthony on Tuesday.
The key difference between the Bulls' pitch and the Rockets' pitch? Houston point guard Jeremy Lin happens to wear No. 7 and, even though his name has swirled in trade rumors for months, he is under contract with the team for the 2014-15 season.
The Rockets will host Carmelo Anthony and have pictures of Carmelo in Rockets uniforms on Toyota Center marquis pic.twitter.com/2VfycvqlkN— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 2, 2014
ICYMI, this is the wall poster Carmelo Anthony likely saw when he entered the Rockets locker room. pic.twitter.com/vH8iquzx3E— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) July 2, 2014
The 25-year-old Lin responded to Houston's jersey pitch by quoting the Bible.
"Luke 6:29 - If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also," Lin wrote on Twitter. "If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them."
When a fan replied to the message, suggesting that Lin has every right to be upset by Houston's move, Lin added: "I'm entitled to stand up for myself [and] say I felt disrespected as i did [through the] tweet. But [the] point is [to] love unconditionally, as Jesus loved me."
Yahoo Sports reports that Lin was not informed beforehand of Houston's plans to use his jersey number in its pitching of Anthony.
Lin averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 71 games last season. He arrived in Houston in 2012 after New York elected not to retain him in restricted free agency, opting to acquire Raymond Felton in a sign-and-trade instead. Lin and Anthony were Knicks teammates during the 2011-12 season -- which saw the height of "Linsanity." When Houston offered Lin a poison-pill, three-year deal worth $25 million, though, Anthony famously referred to it as a "ridiculous contract."
Houston's recruiting contingent included owner Leslie Alexander, general manager Daryl Morey, coach Kevin McHale, All-Star center Dwight Howard, All-Star guard James Harden and Hall of Fame guard and Rockets broadcaster Clyde Drexler, among others, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Anthony will reportedly meet with the Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks this week before reaching a decision on his future.