One day after the Knicks missed out on free agent point guard Steve Nash and hours after they surprisingly landed former Dallas point guard Jason Kidd, the Houston Rockets made a strong attempt to steal New York's restricted free agent point guard, Jeremy Lin.
Sources confirmed that Lin -- the 23-year-old undrafted player who was waived by the Rockets and Golden State last season before becoming a Madison Square Garden star and later having his season cut short by knee surgery on April 2 -- plans to sign Houston's offer sheet for four years and $28.8 million when the free agency moratorium ends on July 11. The deal, which has a team option in the fourth season, is expected to be matched by the Knicks. They will have until July 14 to do so.
As was the case with Houston's offer sheet to Chicago restricted free agent Omer Asik, the deal was constructed in a way that's intended to make matching difficult for the "home" team by backloading the contract. Lin would be paid $5 million in the first season, $5.2 in the second, $9.3 million in the third and $9.3 million in the fourth season. As currently constructed, the Knicks are expected to owe Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert a combined $64.2 million during the third season of Lin's deal (2014-15). That's before considering Kidd, whom sources confirmed will join the Knicks on a deal reportedly worth $9 million over three seasons.
Even with the NBA's harsh luxury tax implications that will begin after next season, the Knicks have continued to privately say they will match, in large part because Lin became such a money-maker during the team's turnaround last season. What's more, the Knicks are ecstatic about the possibility of pairing Lin with Kidd in their continued attempt to make the most of the star power that went largely unfulfilled last season when they fell in five games to Miami in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, no one is losing in this point guard race more than the Mavericks. First, they fell short in their attempt to land Deron Williams, who decided on Tuesday to re-sign in Brooklyn on a five-year, $98.5 million deal rather than join Dirk Nowitzki and his hometown team in Dallas. Then Nash pulled the stunning move to join the Lakers via sign-and-trade with Phoenix, thereby taking Dallas' No. 2 option off the table. Then came the Kidd departure, in which sources said he waffled numerous times about his decision on Thursday before committing to New York.
The moves left many Mavericks fans incensed at the turn of events, as owner Mark Cuban's plan of clearing salary cap space last summer rather than reloading his roster after the 2011 title run hasn't worked to this point. Super sixth man Jason Terry recently agreed to join Boston as a free agent, leaving Dallas with only Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones remaining from its championship club.
"It's better to miss out on the right player than to sign the wrong player," Cuban told SI.com in an e-mail.