NBA PM: Lin Weighing Free Agency Options
When free agency opened on Sunday, Jeremy Lin fielded several calls from his home in Palo Alto. The restricted free agent received interest from a number of teams including the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets. While the New York Knicks can match any offer sheet that Lin signs, one of these interested teams could offer the 23-year-old a backloaded contract that makes the Knicks reconsider.
At least one team has considered offering Lin a “poison pill” deal, according to sources close to the situation. The amount of money that Lin can make in the first two years of his new deal is limited to $5,000,000 in year one and $5,225,000 in year two. However, teams can offer Lin up to $15,000,000 in the final two years of his deal.
While any a large four-year deal would be a blow to the Knicks’ finances, the way that this particular contract is structured presents even more problems. The team that signs Lin to that offer sheet would be able to average the cost over the life of the contract. However, if the Knicks match the offer sheet, they’ll have to pay the actual salary year-to-year, which means in years three and four they would likely be repeat luxury tax offenders. A large pay raise in 2014-15 would cause problems for the Knicks, who will already owe $61,537,876 to Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
Sources close to the situation say the Knicks haven’t offered a contract to Lin, choosing instead to let the market dictate his value. In recent days, New York has been courting unrestricted free agent Steve Nash, meeting face-to-face with him on Sunday. Putting off restricted free agents until last is usually a smart strategy, but not when teams are willing to offer a “poison pill” offer sheet. Not offering a contract to Lin and letting him secure an offer sheet from another team could come back to haunt the Knicks.
Just ask the Chicago Bulls, who will likely lose restricted free agent Omer Asik because of a “poison pill” deal. The Houston Rockets offered Asik a backloaded deal that will pay him $5 million in year one, $5.2 million in year two and $14.9 million in year three. While Chicago had every intention of keeping Asik, they likely won’t be able to afford the reserve center because of the raise he’ll receive in 2014-15.
If the Raptors, Mavericks or Nets are willing to offer Lin a backloaded deal, there’s a chance that Linsanity will undergo a change of scenery next season.
Warriors Are Frontrunner for Hickson: The Golden State Warriors have emerged as the early frontrunner to sign unrestricted free agent J.J. Hickson, according to sources close to the situation.
Hickson nearly signed with the Warriors last March after being waived by the Sacramento Kings. In fact, Hickson had agreed to terms with Golden State and was preparing for Warriors’ shootaround when the Portland Trail Blazers surprisingly signed Hickson off of waivers just before the 48-hour window closed.
While Hickson played well during his stint in Portland, the Blazers decided not to extend him a qualifying offer. Last season, the 23-year-old averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in 19 games with the Blazers.
Hickson has received interest from several other teams, including the Charlotte Bobcats, but there’s certainly mutual interest between the Warriors and the power forward. No deal is imminent at this time, but league sources believe he’ll ultimately end up in Golden State.
Roy Meeting With Five Teams: Teams don’t seem to be worried about Brandon Roy’s health, judging by the number of executives lining up to meet with the 27-year-old shooting guard this week.
Roy received interest from a number of teams, but has narrowed his list down to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, according to sources close to the situation. He met with executives from the Timberwolves and Mavericks over the weekend, and he’s planning to meet with the Warriors, Bulls and Pacers this week.
Roy retired last December due to knee issues. After spending some time away from basketball, Roy realized that he wasn’t ready to call it quits. He started training for a comeback and playing pick-up games several months ago. Sources close to Roy say he’s feeling good and capable of being a significant contributor, likely playing 20 minutes per game next season.
Roy will meet with teams this week and then make a decision shortly after.
Hennigan Confirms Howard’s Trade Request: On Monday, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan confirmed that Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.
“He did mention that Brooklyn is where he’d like to go,” Hennigan said. “I’ll leave it to Dwight to share any other details that he wants to share about our conversation. Out of the respect, trust and privacy we’re trying to build here, I’m not going to elaborate on the specifics or what was discussed.”
Howard has publicly stated that he will only re-sign with one team that trades for him, with all signs indicating that the team is the Nets. However, Hennigan and the Magic will do their due diligence in the coming weeks and trade Howard to the team that can put together the best package.
“We’re going to continue to map out what we feel is in the best interest of our team,” Hennigan said. “Whatever decision that we decide to go forward with will be one that we feel puts our position to be successful moving forward.”
When asked if Howard would wear a Magic uniform again, Hennigan admitted he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know,” Hennigan said. “We’re working through some variables, working through some options and working through some internal discussions.”
Hennigan has been talking with teams around the league in recent days and he’s confident that he can find a suitor for Howard, even after all of the recent drama and without a long-term commitment.
“He’s Dwight Howard,” Hennigan said. “He’s one of the best players in the NBA. A lot of teams have interest in Dwight, as they should, and it’s our job to analyze what’s in the best interest for us and then making a decision.”