LAS VEGAS -- Carmelo Anthony called the contract the Rockets gave Jeremy Lin "ridiculous" and sounded as if he'd understand if the Knicks didn't match it.
Anthony also said Sunday it was premature to consider it a given that Lin would be back regardless of what he was offered. If he does return, J.R. Smith said Lin's contract could become an issue in the locker room.
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That could be a moot concern. Although the Knicks aren't commenting, it's appearing less likely that Lin will return after signing a three-year, $25.1-million offer sheet with Houston on Friday that includes an escalator in year 3 that will pay him $14.9 million. The Knicks can match the offer or let Lin go to the Rockets. The Knicks already have lined up Lin's potential replacements, with Raymond Felton expected to officially join them Monday and Jason Kidd signed.
"It's up to the organization to say they want to match that ridiculous contract that's out there," Anthony said at U.S. Olympic team practice in Washington. "I think a lot of people kind of jumped the gun with that, that he's going to be back no matter what. He was a free agent, so he was testing the market. Houston threw a big deal out there on the table and I haven't talked with anyone in the Knicks' organization as far as what's going to happen, what's the next step."
The Rockets believe the Knicks have until the end of the day Tuesday to decide on Lin. But the Knicks aren't saying whether they received the offer sheet. From the day they get it, they have three days to match.
At the Knicks' summer league game Sunday, coach Mike Woodson declined to speak about Lin or anything involving the team. "I can't talk today," he said. "I can't talk about it."
Smith, who re-upped for two years and $5.6 million, told Sports Illustrated that the deal for Lin could affect the locker-room dynamic. "Without a doubt," he said. "I think some guys take it personal, because they've been doing it longer and haven't received any reward for it yet."
Anthony, the highest-paid Knick, said, "I would love to see him back."
Meanwhile, the Knicks reportedly met with free-agent small forward Grant Hill recently. Several teams, including the Lakers and Nets, are interested in Hill. The Knicks can offer only a minimum contract.
They had plenty to sort out with their point guards Sunday. Kidd was arrested and charged with DWI after his vehicle struck a utility pole in Southampton. He suffered minor injuries and was released on his own recognizance.
Woodson said Wednesday that the Knicks "absolutely" would match Houston's offer and that Lin would be the starter heading into training camp. That was before Lin signed a revised offer sheet with the third-year "poison pill." The original agreement was for four years and $28.8 million, with the fourth year a $9.3-million team option.
The Knicks could take it to the deadline before letting Lin and Houston know their decision. Even without Lin, they will have three point guards on the roster with Kidd, Felton and Argentina's Pablo Prigioni, who agreed to a one-year deal.
The trade with Portland should be completed Monday. The Knicks will get Felton and Kurt Thomas for Dan Gadzuric's non-guaranteed deal, Jared Jeffries and the rights to second-round pick Kostas Papanikolaou.
With Roderick Boone