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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks in action against the Atlanta Hawks on February 22, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Hawks 99-82. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Bye bye, Lin. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Knicks May Let Jeremy Lin Go

Just a few days ago, as Jeremy Lin was set to sign a $25 million three-year offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, Knicks prognosticators were absolutely convinced the club would match the offer and keep the 6'3" point guard/marketing sensation in New York, never mind the "poison pill" third year  salary of over $15 million. After all, Lin is a goldmine, money is no object for the Knicks, and if he plays at the same level he did during last season's admittedly small sample of games, he could be the difference that makes the Knicks semi-plausible title contenders rather than a first or second-round playoff club, right?

Wrong — maybe. After the Knicks traded for their ex-point guard Raymond Felton last night — in a move that noone had predicted — Lin's future with the club is in doubt. The Knicks already have veteran backups for Lin in Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, so why do they need another one? Felton himself told an ABC affiliate in South Carolina that the Knicks were no longer pursuing Lin, and multiple reports since have backed him up (although other "sources" in the swirl of rumors say Lin will stay.) It's true that the real price tag for keeping Lin, thanks to the luxury tax, would be even higher than Houston's already overpriced contract, and the Knicks just refused to match Landry Fields' own crazy $19 million offer from the Toronto Raptors. But Knicks owner James Dolan has never been shy about paying tens of millions of dollars in luxury taxes, and thus, inevitably, talk turns to conspiracy theories: Did Lin anger the boss by agreeing to secretly renegotiate his first contract offer with Houston?

To cap it all off, wise veteran Jason Kidd, who was supposedly going to mentor Lin, was arrested around 2 a.m. in Southampton last night after drunkenly crashing his Escalade into a telephone pole. The Knicks have until just before midnight on Tuesday to respond to the Rockets' offer, which could mean two more days of sports soap opera and terrible Jeremy Lin puns.

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Photo: Jim McIsaac/2012 Jim McIsaac