Jeremy Lin himself has sidestepped it, his agent has categorically denied it and an arbitrator’s verdict regarding Early Bird Rights has yet to be rendered, but there’s no escaping reality—Lin’s future with the New York Knicks is set in stone.
After taking New York by storm, Lin enters the offseason with a surgically repaired left knee and, most importantly, a restricted free agency status. While this leaves the point guard free to negotiate with other teams, the Knicks have the right—and thanks to Gilbert Arenas, the ability—to match any offer sheet that may come Lin’s way.
But will they? Are the Knicks prepared to use all of their mid-level exemption to re-sign Lin if the impending hearing doesn’t sway in the favor?
The answer there is of course.
But what if another team comes into play, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to pry Lin away from the Knicks, you ask?
Well, I’ll answer that question with another—what is it that any potentially interested team can realistically do to force the Knicks to part ways with the driving force behind Linsanity?
Regardless of the outcome of said Bird Rights hearing, no team can offer Lin more money than New York. And being that Lin’s salary for the first year of his new contract is capped at about $5 million, there’s no reason to assume Knicks would balk at matching other offer sheets that Lin signs.
That leads us into perilous territory, where “anonymous sources” run rampant and logistics are almost non-existent: The NBA trade rumor mill.
Since there is no financial loophole that provides interested teams with an edge in contract negotiations, showering the Knicks with assets is the only reasonable way to make a serious play at Lin.
However, even if there is a team prepared to make a wildly impulsive offer for New York’s newest phenomenon, there’s simply no trade that would fit within the confines of the league’s CBA that would convince the Knicks to give up Lin. None.
Lin is more than a promising point guard to this franchise—he’s a global icon. And with global iconicity comes dollar signs, a tangible asset the Knicks—specifically owner James Dolan—are extremely interested in.
While the hope remains that Lin will be able to pick up where he left off and transform the Knicks into a heralded winner, his financial impact is guaranteed. Win or lose, boom or bust, Lin will continue to line the pockets of the New York franchise.
And all we have to do to confirm such a notion is take a look at Linsanity by the numbers.
By the time Lin had led the Knicks to their sixth straight victory, the team’s television broadcast ratings increased by a whopping 70 percent. During that same span, Lin’s T-shirt also became the No. 1 seller on NBA.com.
Fast-forward to New York’s first loss with Lin at the helm—a bout against the New Orleans Hornets at Madison Square Garden—and ticket prices ranged from $183 to $3,919. And this is the Hornets we’re talking about, not the Los Angeles Lakers or the Miami Heat—the Hornets. Lin draws in the masses, crowds that neither Kobe Bryant nor LeBron James can entice.
Why would the Knicks ever let a financial gem like Lin out of their clutches?
They wouldn’t. His upside on the basketball court is only exceeded by his polarizing story and persona, which subsequently leads lucrative profits.
Lin is projected to boost New York’s revenue stream by $50 million leading into next season. And there isn’t a team within the Association with pockets deep enough nor assets valuable enough to fill the multi-faceted void walking away from the overnight sensation would create.
Jeremy Lin isn’t going anywhere.
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