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Jeremy Lin deadline approaches; Raymond Felton officially a Knick

Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks

Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks during a game against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 20, 2012. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jeremy Lin could be a former Knick by midnight Tuesday.

The Knicks have until the end of Tuesday to decide whether to match the three-year, $25.1-million offer sheet the wildly popular Lin signed with Houston. The offer includes a $14.89-million "poison pill" in the third year that prompted Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony to call it a "ridiculous contract" and might make the organization cut ties with Lin.

The Knicks haven't commented since Lin received the offer sheet, but they finalized the trade for point guard Raymond Felton Monday, which could signal the end of Lin-sanity in New York.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Knicks had still not commented. A report in the New York Times, citing an anonymous source, said the Knicks would not match the offer. As of 5 p.m., the Houston Rockets had not been informed of any decision.

The Knicks had every intention of matching offers for Lin, a restricted free agent who averaged 17.7 points and 8.2 assists in 25 starts and was even more valuable to them from a business and marketing standpoint.

But the Knicks can't be happy that the terms of the deal Lin originally agreed upon with Houston changed. It was a four-year, $28.8-million contract, and the fourth year was a $9.3-million team option.

Besides perhaps being upset that they were blindsided by the addition of about $5.6 million in the third year, the Knicks will face immense luxury-tax ramifications if they match.

More than $70 million already is committed to Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Felton for the 2014-15 season. Lin would put the Knicks at more than $85 million.

The luxury-tax penalties are stiffer starting in 2013-14. Based on the collective-bargaining agreement, Lin's third-year salary could cost the Knicks an additional $28.5 million in luxury tax.

The deal isn't as onerous for Houston. The average salary of the contract counts on the Rockets' books for $8.35 million each year.

The Knicks might go right to the deadline before letting Lin and the Rockets know their decision.

Last Wednesday, coach Mike Woodson said "absolutely" when he was asked if he expected Lin back. He also was asked if the Knicks blinked at Houston's original offer. Woodson replied "never once" and said Lin would be the starting point guard heading into training camp.

But after Houston upped the ante in the third year, the Knicks started looking for an alternative at point guard and brought back Felton.

He and another former Knick, Kurt Thomas, returned to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade that sent Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, the draft rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Giorgos Printezis and a protected future second-round draft pick to Portland.

Felton signed a guaranteed three-year deal with a fourth-year player option that could make the contract worth about $18 million overall.

In 54 games with the Knicks in the 2010-11 season, Felton averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 assists before being traded to Denver in the Anthony deal.

Thomas, 39, remains a solid post defender.

The Knicks also signed 6-8 forward Chris Copeland to a non-guaranteed contract. Copeland, who has played the past five seasons in Europe, is on the Knicks' summer-league team.

The Dolan family owns con-

trolling interests in the Knicks,

Madison Square Garden

and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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