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UNCERTAIN RETURN OF JEREMY LIN WITH THE N.Y KNICKS
Thu, 24 May 2012 03:49 PM EDT

Jeremy Lin will be a restricted free agent this summer, and many see it as a foregone conclusion that the point guard will return to the N.Y Knicks, although not everybody feels so strongly.

“I don’t expect that. We are not predicting that is going to occur. We do not have assurances of anything,” Lin’s agent, Roger Montgomery, announced in an interview. “I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything. We’re waiting to see what happens.”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson recounted earlier in the month that Lin will “definitely” be back with the Knicks next season. But Lin speaking the day following the Knicks’ season-ending loss to Miami in the playoffs, said “nothing is set in stone” regarding his free agency.

“There’s always going to be uncertainty until the last agreement is signed, so absolutely nothing is set in stone,” Lin declared. “Nothing’s set in stone till it’s really written.”

Courtesy of a clause in the CBA — named after Gilbert Arenas — the Knicks can match any offer made to Lin this summer.

Another factor for Lin’s free agency is the anticipated arbitration hearing over the Bird and Early Bird exceptions to the salary cap for waived players.

The union and league are at odds over whether the Bird rights for waived players should be transferred to their new teams. The union says the rights, which permit teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign players, should transfer for players who are waived. The league argues that the Bird rights shouldn’t transfer.

This is important for Lin because he was picked up off of waivers by the Knicks. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the union, then the Knicks would be permitted to exceed the cap to sign both Lin and forward Steve Novak, who also was acquired off of waivers.

This would additionally permit the Knicks to use their $5 million mid-level exception on another player. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the league, the Knicks will likely have to use their mid-level exception to re-sign Lin and would be limited in their pursuit of other independent agents.

Lin emerged from the end of the Knicks’ bench in early Feb. to steer the team to 7 straight wins, essentially saving New York’s season. Additionally, he supplied a serious monetary blessing for the Knicks in merchandising sales and marketing opportunities. These intangibles are why many think Lin is a lock to re-sign.

But there is one more wrinkle to think about: Teams under the salary cap can offer Lin more than $5 million per season in the 3rd and 4th years of a contract offer, as long as the average annual price of the deal does not exceed the salary cap.

If the Knicks were to match such a back-loaded offer, it might put them above the luxury tax in the 3rd and 4th years of Lin’s contract and prohibit them from using their mid-level exception. Basketball scores

Lin underwent surgery April 2 to fix a small tear in the meniscus of his left knee. He attempted to return in the 1st round of the Knicks’ playoff series in opposition to the Heat but was unable to do that.


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