x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Houston Rockets land Jeremy Lin after Knicks decline to take up option

The fans' favourite returns to Texas - and the side which originally dumped him - on a three-year, $25m deal.

Jeremy Lin in action for the Knicks against Toronto last season
Jeremy Lin in action for the Knicks against Toronto last season

NEW YORK // Jeremy Lin is to join the Houston Rockets after the New York Knicks decided not to match the Rockets' big-money deal last night.

The Knicks decided to cut ties with the fan favourite after confirming they would not be taking up their option to match Houston's three-year, $25m (Dh91.8m) offer for the restricted free agent.

"Extremely excited and honoured to be a Houston Rocket again!!" Lin posted on Twitter.

"Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support the past year ... easily the best year of my life."

The New York side had originally vowed to match any offer Lin received - but the Rockets' offer included a $14.9 million scheduled payment for the third year, which would have cost the Knicks millions in luxury-tax penalties on other big contracts on their books.

Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan and whose grandmother is from China, became a hit during last season after having been cut by two NBA clubs — including the Rockets.

Injuries to two starters allowed the former Harvard University standout a chance to come off the Knicks bench and Lin responded by sparking a seven-game Knicks winning streak, his clutch shooting and passing skills earning him adoration from fans.

The big money deal represents a huge leap for a player that, last season, had slept on teammate Landry Fields' couch the night before making his big impression. He had refusing to get his own place, knowing he could have been cut that week.

Dismayed Knicks supporters were quick to voice their disappointment over losing the popular 23-year-old.

"We're losing more than one player. He was a symbol of the city," said fan Jason Gutierrez.

Mary Anne Jones, a 42-year-old sales assistant from New York's East Village, said it didn't make sense to part with the 23-year-old Lin when the Knicks had just acquired NBA veteran point Jason Kidd — who was expected to serve as Lin's mentor and backup.

"We got a 39-year-old player and we let (Lin) go. I don't understand," she said. "I think it's a big mistake. He's a young, gifted player. I'm sure the fans will miss him."

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony had been among those hoping the young point guard would stay, although he knew money would be an issue.

"I would love to see him back, honestly. I would definitely love to see him back," Anthony said after a US Olympic team exhibition win over Brazil in Washington.

"But knowing the business of basketball, it's kind of a tough situation, kind of for both parties," Anthony said.

"Lin-sanity" became a worldwide phenomenon and even after his role was reduced, he served as an inspirational tale.

"Bye bye Knicks ... am not Knicks fan anymore," Jen-Jung Fan wrote on the Knicks' Facebook page, just one of a welter of pro-Lin postings.

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