ESPN loves it some Jeremy Lin. Ever since that February night when Lin — the former undrafted Harvard point guard who was unceremoniously dumped by several NBA teams before emerging as a midseason starter for the NY Knicks — cemented his place as the best story in sports by hanging 38 on Kobe and the Lakers in only his fifth career start and giving rise to an endless string of lazy titles like the one used above, the worldwide leader has had Lin squarely in the crosshairs of its unique brand of suffocating coverage. Stated another way, if Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow ever released a sex tape together, ESPN would collapse on itself like a dying star.
So when the clock struck midnight this Tuesday without the Knicks matching the 3-year, $25.1 million offer sheet Lin signed with the Houston Rockets, ESPN’s endless string of bombastic talking heads were left to ponder: How could this happen? Further muddling this quesiton were reports indicating that the Knicks had previously agreed to match an informal, four-year offer from the Rockets before Lin called Houston back to the negotiating table to restructure the deal. The reworked offer sheet pulled more money into year three, a poison pill that would prevent the Knicks from matching without severe financial consequences. If true, this would certainly seem to indicate that Lin wanted to leave NY. But why?
Why would a guy with 26 career starts leave the one team that had given hm a chance? Particularly to go to Houston, one of the teams that previously had Lin in their coffers, only to deem him not good enough? Why would anyone forsake the bright lights of the Madison Square Garden stage to ply their trade in Texas, of all places?
How about for an extra $3,000,000?
With the move from New York to Texas, Jeremy Lin says goodbye to the oppressive New York State and city income tax regime; one that would have taken 8.8% and 3.8%, respectively, off the top of his shiny new $25,000,000 contract. Texas, of course, has no income tax, meaning Lin just pocketed himself a cool $3.1 million over the life of his deal.
Lin’s shortcomings are no secret — turnover prone, can’t go left, and a turnstile for a defender — but the guy did go to Harvard. Maybe he just did the math.