LAS VEGAS -- Jeremy Lin became a big winner in Vegas on Friday. He hit the jackpot and cashed in on his breakout season with the Knicks, signing a three-year, $25.1-million offer sheet with the Rockets, a league source said.
The Knicks have three days to match the offer once they receive it, and they have said they will. But if they blink, it's because terms of the originally reported agreement changed and the Rockets heavily backloaded the third year to make it less appealing to match.
Lin, who flew here to sign the deal, will get $5 million in the first year and $5.2 million in year two. It balloons to about $14.9 million in the final year of the contract, the source said. The Rockets and Lin originally agreed on a four-year deal, with the final two years worth $9.3 million each. The fourth year was a team option.
Houston's hope is to secure Lin, acquire Dwight Howard and entice him to stay. But it's risky because Howard probably would want to play with a more established point guard.
Either way, the price is high for Lin, an undrafted player whose 25 career starts came last season. If the Knicks match the offer, they will have more than $77 million committed to Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Lin for the 2014-15 season.
It would seem to lessen the likelihood that the Knicks will match Toronto's three-year, $18.7-million offer sheet to Landry Fields by Saturday's deadline, given that he'll make more than $9 million for 2014-15.
Lin means so much to the Knicks off the court, but he still is proving his value on it. He averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists as a starter last season but was unavailable down the stretch and in the playoffs after opting for knee surgery.
The Knicks signed veteran Jason Kidd to help mentor Lin.
Earlier this week, coach Mike Woodson said the Knicks "absolutely" will match Houston's offer for Lin. General manager Glen Grunwald used the word "likely." Woodson, asked before practice Friday if the Knicks will wait the full three days to match, said: "Oh, I don't know. Until we get it in hand and Glen and them are able to evaluate everything, we'll make a decision then."
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