At 12:00 AM on Wednesday morning, NBA teams were officially permitted to sign free agents. There’d been plenty of agreein’ going on before then, but not until the 11th could anybody actually put pen to paper. By that time, we all knew that the Houston Rockets intended to give restricted free agent Jeremy Lin a four-year, $28 million offer sheet. We knew it would have a team option in the fourth year, and we knew it would include raises in the final two years — “poison pills” — which weren’t quite as poisonous as everybody expected. We also knew that the Knicks were going to match that contract and bring Lin back, even if it were for something closer to $40 million or, you know, $1,000 million.
The Knicks have yet to match that offer sheet because, as of yet, there is no offer sheet. I promise you that this does not mean anything is wrong or afoot. It just means that the Rockets are dawdling. And given the amount of wheeling and dealing they’ve been up to — extending a similar offer to Omer Asik, trading for pretty much every draft pick available ever, amnestying Luis Scola — in preparation for some bigger move (likely a play for Dwight Howard), it’s understandable that filling out paperwork for a guy they know full well won’t be part of their plans, essentially on another team’s behalf, isn’t a priority.
The delay is killing us Knicks fans, though. Until the ink’s dry and the Knicks have matched, New York is technically without their starting point guard, and even though the whole thing is a foregone conclusion, that sliver of uncertainty itches and causes silly questions to arise. Will the Rockets change their offer? Will the Knicks get cold feet? Will Jeremy change his mind? The answers are no, no, and it’s not even up to him. There’s no need to worry and, in fact, there’s good news: Marc Stein reports that Lin has arrived in Las Vegas to meet Rockets officials and that the “process” of signing an offer sheet is in motion. One wonders what “process” could surround something as simple as signing a piece of paper (Debate over the pen of choice and stock of the paper? Or maybe the decision to go paperless and use the iPad? Perusal of the contract with a magnifying glass to make sure there’s no damning fine print? Prayer?), but rest assured that Lin will have his offer wrapped up in the near future, at which point the Knicks will have 72 hours to match it. And they will. Jeremy Lin will be a Knick. It’ll all be okay. (Landry Fields, meanwhile, is another story. New York has until tomorrow to match Toronto’s offer for Fields and it’s still not clear how spendthrift James Dolan’s feeling this weekend. We’ll see.)
Any minute now.
Update: There it is! Houston’s offer sheet is done, and they actually DID change it a little bit. It’s for $25 million over three years, which is a bit compacter than we originally thought (meaning the “poison pill” third year is a bit more poisonous). The Knicks have three days to match, and they’ll probably take all three days to do so, just to annoy the Rockets.