Jeremy Lin will be introduced by the Rockets at a press conference Thursday, but the popular point guard wasn't fully ready to leave New York.
Lin told Sports Illustrated he spoke to Knicks' general manager Glen Grunwald for no more than 30 seconds via phone late Wednesday and was informed that the Knicks wouldn't match the Rockets' three-year, $25.1 million guaranteed contract.
"We wanted to keep you, but it couldn't work out," Grunwald told Lin according to SI.
The global sensation who played in 25 games before his season ended because of a knee injury, has caused widespread debate over whether the Knicks or Rockets made the right decision in the Lin tug of war. The Rockets intentionally included a $14.898 million salary in the third year of the contract. Including luxury tax ramifications, based on contracts of players currently on the Knicks' roster, the third year of Lin's contract would've cost the Knicks around $43 million.
"I love the New York fans to death," Lin says. "That's the biggest reason why I wanted to return to New York. The way they embraced me, the way they supported us this past season, was better than anything I've ever seen or experienced. I'll go to my grave saying that. What New York did for me was unbelievable. I wanted to play in front of those fans for the rest of my career."
The Knicks, it became apparent to Lin, didn't feel the same way. New York opted not to make an offer to him when free agency began and informed his agents they'd let other teams set the market for Lin, even though head coach Mike Woodson guaranteed Lin would return and said he was the team's starting point guard.
The team's actions told another story, at least from Lin's perspective. They pursued veteran point guard Steve Nash and then acquired two veterans -- Jason Kidd and former Knicks' starter Raymond Felton.
"Honestly, I preferred New York," Lin says. "But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. ... Now I'm definitely relieved."
Lin's return to the Rockets comes at a time when Houston's roster is greatly in flux. Lin is likely to be the face of a franchise that was once built around Yao Ming. The Taiwanese American whose following in China is vast, but his experience is minimal. The Rockets are quite literally banking not only on his marketing prowess but that he'll be the player he was with the Knicks -- averaging 18 points and six rebounds as a starter, largely while Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were out with injuries -- while the rest of the roster is assembled by general manager Daryl Morey.