Last offseason the Houston Rockets waived point guard Jeremy Lin as they already had 3 established point guards on the roster and did not think they had the roster space to keep him. He was then picked up by the Knicks, and after getting his shot at the starting gig, the rest was history. After averaging 14 points, 6 assists, a hundred Lin-related puns, and countless endorsement offers for the Taiwanese-American phenom, Lin is on the market as a restricted free agent now, and those same Houston Rockets have offered Jeremy Lin a significant contract offer to come back to Houston.
His remarkable play on the court aside, Lin also possesses value from a marketing perspective thanks to his devoted Asian following. With that in mind, news of Lin’s backloaded $28.8 million contract offer (which pays out around $9 million a year in the last two years of the deal), and the Knicks’ insistence on matching the offer (“they will match any offer on Lin up to 1 billion dollars”) makes a lot of sense. At the same time, the off-court value only comes if Lin can maintain his on-court value. A large part of Lin’s marketing appeal had as much to do with the Cinderella (or, “Linderella”) run to stardom, and his improbable on-court performances as his ethnicity. If Lin regresses to merely a bench role, he would have about as much marketing value as someone like Yi Jian Lian or Wang Zhi Zhi.