NBA PM: Will Knicks Re-Sign Jeremy Lin?
Jeremy Lin’s ascent to stardom captivated the sports world and the 23-year-old’s breakout season was one to remember. Few players have gone from benchwarmer to household name in a matter of weeks, but Lin was able to do just that while simultaneously becoming a fixture in pop culture. While his season ended prematurely due to a torn meniscus, the next chapter of Linsanity will begin on July 1.
That’s when Lin will become a restricted free agent. The New York Knicks can match any offer sheet that Lin receives, which could make the point guard’s free agency rather anticlimactic. However, a number of teams are expected to pursue Lin and make the process difficult for New York.
The Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets are among the teams eyeing Lin as free agency approaches, according to sources close to the situation.
Lin’s options are somewhat limited due to a restriction called the “Gilbert Arenas Provision” that was added to the new collective bargaining agreement. This rule states that Lin’s salary in the first two years of his next contract cannot exceed $5,000,000 and $5,225,000.
However, there is a loophole. A team with salary cap space could make things interesting by increasing Lin’s salary in years three and four of his contract and paying him the average salary of the four-year deal. However, if the Knicks match a back-loaded offer, they’ll have to pay the actual salary that he’s due for each season.
That means if Brooklyn offers Lin $12,628,613 and $13,146,387 in the final two years of his deal, they’ll have to pay him $9,000,000 per season. However, if New York matches, they’ll owe Lin $5,000,000 next season, $5,225,000 in year two and then $12,628,613 in 2013-14, when they already owe Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler $60,632,000. Matching Lin isn’t the no-brainer decision that some have made it out to be when you consider how much it could cost New York in two years.
For a team like the Nets, making this type of offer to Lin makes a lot of sense. If they lose Deron Williams, Brooklyn would love to steal Lin from the Knicks and open Barclays Center with Linsanity. Even if New York matches the offer sheet, it’s a win-win for the Nets because they raise the price for Lin and force the Knicks to make a tough financial decision.
Teams know that Lin generates business, from ticket sales to corporate sponsorships to ad sales, and this will affect his free agency. What Lin brings from a marketing perspective will certainly justify a team making a large offer to Lin. Few players in Lin’s price range generate business and worldwide interest.
Lin currently finds himself in the middle of a dispute between the NBPA and NBA. The union has filed for a hearing to fight the collective bargaining agreement rule that removes the Bird rights for a player who is claimed off of waivers. Because these waived players, such as Lin, didn’t go through free agency or choose where they sign, the union believes their Bird rights should be restored. This would allow the Knicks to go over the cap re-sign Lin, since they’ll own his rights, rather than forcing New York to use their mid-level exception to retain him.
This season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games. In 25 games as a starter, Lin averaged 18.2 points, 7.7 assists and 2 steals.
Pacers Confident After Tying Series: The Indiana Pacers are used to being the underdogs. Despite winning 42 games and finishing with the third seed in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers have been overlooked for much of the season. Entering the Conference Semifinals against the Miami HEAT, there weren’t many people giving Indiana a chance to win the series. However, the Pacers used that as motivation, as they’ve done all year long, and stunned Miami in Game 2.
“We never felt like we were the underdogs,” Danny Granger said. “We don’t listen to what everyone else has to say. We have our own thing going on with this team. We listen to what’s going on internally. We don’t listen to what the media has to say. We’re not underdogs. We had the fifth-best record in the NBA and we’re a very good team. We’re not underdogs.”
Indiana has one of the closest locker rooms in the league and they’ve developed an us-against-the-world attitude. They believe that they can beat Miami, regardless of what anyone says.
“We’re the best kept secret in the league,” Roy Hibbert said. “Nobody has talked about us all year, even though we were the third best team in the East. That’s fine with us. We’re just going to keep going.”
“Nobody counts us in,” George Hill said. “From day one, we’ve been counted out. I like it. You get to sneak up on people. We don’t worry about what people say about us or what the media thinks about us.”
The Pacers have had plenty of bulletin board material to work with in recent weeks. Entering the series, many analysts predicted that Miami would sweep Indiana. When Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal strain in Game 1, there was talk about whether he’d be ready for the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals, assuming Miami would advance past Indiana.
“It really motivates us,” Paul George said. “It’s been like that throughout the season. They said we wouldn’t be the third seed, but we accomplished that. There’s been a lot of negative talk about us, but we overcame it and we’re in a great position now. We’re accustomed to this.”
Where does this swagger and confidence come from? While the Pacers are an inexperienced team, they have strong leaders throughout the organization. Larry Bird, the team’s president of basketball operations, has made his presence felt and motivated the group. Brian Shaw, who serves as an assistant coach on Frank Vogel’s staff, has been vocal and discussed what it takes to win a championship. These two men with championship pedigrees have prepared the Pacers for this postseason run.
“I talk to B-Shaw all the time and Larry’s presence is huge,” George Hill said. “They are two great guys, who accomplished a lot during their careers. Anytime they talk, I’m listening. I soak up everything they say like a sponge.”
“I think it’s great, having these guys who have won multiple championships as players and coaches,” Granger said. “Their experience is invaluable. Larry Bird is a legend and some of the things that he relays to us are just off the charts.”
Prior to Game 2, Bird called George and had a lengthy conversation with the 22-year-old.
“There’s no better guy to talk to than Larry,” George said. “He’s an excellent resource, as well as Brian Shaw. I talked to Larry on the phone for about 20 minutes (before Game 2). It was a great conversation. That was the reason I was able to come out aggressive, just listening to some of the things he told me. Larry is a man of few words, but if you want to pick his brain, he’s always open to it.”
The Pacers stole home-court advantage and return to Indiana with plenty of confidence, even if nobody is giving them a chance to beat the HEAT.
Bird Named Executive of the Year: Speaking of Larry Bird, he has been named the 2011-12 NBA Executive of the Year. Bird is the first person in NBA history to win Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. As president of basketball operations in Indiana, Bird oversaw a Pacers team that went 42-24 (.636), earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference and finishing with the league’s fifth-best record.
Bird named Frank Vogel, who had served in an interim capacity for 46 games during the 2010-11 season, head coach on July 6, 2011. He traded for George Hill on draft night, added to an already strong nucleus by signing David West in December and beefed up the Pacers’ bench by trading for Lou Amundson and Leandro Barbosa. Indiana’s draft picks under Bird’s watch have included three key contributors on this year’s team: Paul George (2010), Tyler Hansbrough (2009) and Roy Hibbert (2008).
Bird totaled 88 points and received 12 first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team executives throughout the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs’ R.C. Buford finished second with 56 points (eight first-place votes) votes and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Neil Olshey finished third with 55 points (six first-place votes). Gar Forman, Kevin O’Connor, Glen Grunwald, Pat Riley, Sam Presti, Chris Wallace, David Kahn, Rod Thorn, Dell Demps, Rick Sund, Danny Ainge, John Hammond, Lon Babby, Mitch Kupchak, Otis Smith and Masai Ujiri also received votes.