Houston Rockets sign Jeremy Lin as New York won’t match offer

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin

NEW YORK (CNN) — Seven months after dropping him from their team, the Houston Rockets signed Jeremy Lin when the New York Knicks failed to match Houston’s three-year, $25-million offer for the point guard.

“We are thrilled to have Jeremy back as part of the Rockets family,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement Tuesday night. “In his limited opportunity last season, Jeremy showed that he has all the skills to be a great player in this league for many years to come.”

The Harvard-educated basketball phenom captured worldwide attention by leading the Knicks to a string of victories last year.

Jonathan Supranowitz, the Knicks’ vice president of public relations, announced Tuesday night, July 17th that the Knicks would not match Houston’s offer.

On Twitter, Lin expressed his enthusiasm to rejoin the Rockets.

“Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!!” he tweeted. “Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support this past year … easily the best year of my life.”

Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey shared in Lin’s excitement about the news.

“Welcome to Houston @JLin7! We plan to hang on this time. You will love ‪#RedNation,” Morey tweeted

Morey’s tweet alluded to the Lin’s brief stint with the Rockets last year.

Later Tuesday, Lin issued a brief statement expanding on his tweets.

“I loved this past year with the Knicks and truly appreciate the opportunity that New York gave me,” he said. “The way the fans fully embraced me and our team was something I’ll always cherish forever. It was an extraordinary and unforgettable time that was easily the best year of my life. Now I am excited to be back with the Rockets. They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city. I am also impressed with Mr. Alexander and the management’s commitment to improving the team. I’m excited about contributing to the Rockets winning tradition and competing with my new teammates.”

The 23-year-old was waived by the Golden State Warriors on December 9 and was picked up by Houston on December 12. He appeared in two pre-season outings with the Rockets before the team let him go on December 24.

Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald had until 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday to match a deal that teammate Carmelo Anthony called “ridiculous.” It would cost his team tens of millions more in luxury-tax penalties were New York to match the Houston deal.

“You are going to take away any flexibility the franchise has for the next two years when you sign that contract,” said Mike Francesa, a host for New York sports radio station WFAN, said earlier. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Lin, a 23-year-old undrafted point guard of Taiwanese descent who brought “Linsanity” into the lexicon by way of his hardwood heroics, burst onto the scene in early February when then-Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni called him off the bench as the team struggled.

A winning streak — which included besting all-star Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers — ensued, with Lin coming up big on clutch plays and endearing himself to a growing fan base, likely enamored with his unlikely story.

The man who had been cut by two other teams, and spent his first few weeks with the Knicks sleeping on his brother’s couch, quickly turned into a global brand, with store owners packing their shelves with Lin jerseys and other apparel.

But the Knicks sensation soon faced criticism over his proclivity for turnovers. Questions also surfaced about his ability for sustained top-level play and whether his rapid ascent to stardom had been warranted.

In March, he suffered a knee injury, with an MRI revealing a small chronic meniscus tear in his left knee.

New York recently signed point guard Jason Kidd and acquired former Knicks guard Raymond Felton via a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trailblazers, raising big questions about Lin’s future on the Knicks’ roster.

“It was certainly very shocking when the news kind of broke out that they were looking at Raymond Felton and ultimately looking to not match on Lin,” said Will Leitch, contributing editor and columnist at New York Magazine. “No one really saw it coming. Even the people that were really close to the situation.”

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