HOUSTON -- Say goodbye to Linsanity, New York.
Jeremy Lin is taking his game off Broadway -- way off -- to Houston after the Knicks announced Tuesday night they would not match the Rockets’ three-year, $25 million offer for the restricted free agent.
"Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!!" Lin posted on his Twitter account.
"Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support the past year...easily the best year of my life."
Lin became an international phenomenon and the biggest story in sports during one dazzling month in the Big Apple. But the Knicks decided keeping the show in town was too costly.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey celebrated the re-acquisition on Twitter:
"Welcome to Houston (at)JLin7. We plan to hang on this time. You will love (hash)RedNation."
The Rockets waived Lin after two weeks in their training camp in December.
The Knicks said they would match any offer to retain Lin, a restricted free agent. But the Rockets made it tough for the Knicks to keep Lin by backloading their offer sheet with a $15 million salary in the third season. If the Knicks agreed to that deal, they would’ve faced a hefty luxury tax in 2014-15 because of other big contracts on their books -- between $30-40 million.
One sports consultant said the adjustment to the offer sheet was a stroke of genius by Morey.
But Houston made the bad move, initially, waiving Lin because it already had Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry on the roster. The Knicks picked him up and gave him first real shot. He was briefly demoted to the developmental league, recalled and finally got his chance when coach Mike D’Antoni put him in with the Knicks floundering at 8-15. Lin scored a career-high 25 points in a 99-92 win over New Jersey Nets and "Linsanity" was born.
Lin had slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before, still refusing to get his own place as he headed into that week, knowing the Knicks would have to decide whether to cut him or guarantee his contract for the rest of the season.
But Lin proved more than just a one-hit wonder -- he had 28 and 23 points in his first two NBA starts, and then scored a career-high 38 in a 92-85 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.