Knicks Now Seem Set on Letting Lin Go

The Knicks cut ties with Lin on Tuesday night, ending a brief, spectacular and now-bittersweet love affair between Lin, a 23-year-old point guard, and an adoring fan base. Lin will play next season for the , who signed him to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet that the Knicks chose not to match.

The Knicks conveyed their intentions to Lin sometime after 10 p.m., less than two hours before the deadline to make the decision, and several hours after The New York Times reported that Lin would be let go.

After hours of silence, a Knicks spokesman ended any remaining suspense with a brief statement around 10:45 p.m., saying simply, “I can confirm we are not matching.” The Knicks offered no explanation or further comment. It was unclear when, or if, team officials would address the matter, but the Rockets said Lin would be introduced as a member of the team at a news conference Thursday.

The final decision for the Knicks rested with James L. Dolan, the Madison Square Garden chairman, and Dolan was the only one who could reverse it as the final hours ticked away Tuesday. But by midafternoon, a person briefed on the situation said the deliberations had ended.

“It is done,” the person said.

The decision was said to be financial, not emotional. Lin’s contract contains a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks another $35 million or more in luxury-tax penalties. This so-called poison pill was devised by the Rockets to dissuade the Knicks from matching, and it proved effective.

“We were comfortable with the money we were going to give Jeremy, and we hoped they wouldn’t match,” Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s hard to know what was the key to their decision.”

Because the Rockets are well below the luxury-tax threshold, Lin’s contract will cost them only its face value. Also, under the N.B.A.’s arcane rules, the Rockets will be charged an average of the salary, $8.37 million a year, for salary-cap purposes, instead of taking the $14.9 million hit in 2014-15. Thus, the deal is more manageable for the Rockets than it would have been for the Knicks.

Knicks officials ultimately concluded that it made more sense to pay two veteran point guards, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, a combined $7 million in 2014-15, than to spend $50 million or more to keep Lin, who has yet to play a full season as a starter.

So the Knicks’ most popular player in more than a decade, who rose from obscurity, saved their season and became a global sensation, is gone. He will join a young, rebuilding Rockets team that is pushing hard to land Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic’s disgruntled star center.

Lin spent just 26 games as the Knicks’ primary point guard last season, but it was a memorable, often spectacular run, filled with buzzer-beating shots, dazzling passes and bold drives to the rim. It began with a seven-game winning streak that electrified the Garden and spawned a household word: Linsanity. Along the way, Lin outdueled Kobe Bryant in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and outshone Dirk Nowitzki to beat the Dallas Mavericks. His fame grew exponentially because of his unique profile: a Harvard graduate and Taiwanese-American who went undrafted and was waived twice before finding his niche with the Knicks.

A knee injury, and subsequent surgery, ended Lin’s magical run in late March. He averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists in that run — statistics that would place him among the N.B.A.’s top point guards if he had sustained them for a full season. Yet Lin also had an above-average turnover rate, and he struggled against some of the league’s top defensive teams, notably the Miami Heat, who harassed him into 1-for-11 shooting and eight turnovers on Feb. 23.

Despite Lin’s great promise, his portrait remains incomplete. He is clearly better than the scouting reports suggested when he went undrafted in 2010. Still unknown is whether he will be a star, a flash in the pan or merely a very good point guard. He was brilliant in the former coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system, but it was unknown how he might fare in the more traditional offense of D’Antoni’s successor, Mike Woodson.

Whatever he may become, it will happen with the Rockets, who have placed a great deal of faith and money in Lin.

Nate Taylor contributed reporting from Las Vegas.

Will LaRussa Knuckle Under?

This is a big one. The choice is really about the meaning of the All-Star game itself. Because if you think it’s about the game’s emotional connection to its fans, a celebration of what makes them sit through four-hour games while players and managers delay every minute of action possible (for more on this plague, do read ), then Dickey is the no-brainer choice. As , he’s the best story in baseball this season, bar none. If it’s about sheer talent and eye-popping stuff, Cain is your guy. As , Cain has more than just a magical half-season going for him.

You can be certain La Russa will over-manage this in his mind every way possible (hey, he no longer has a regular team to inflict that on) and Mets Manager Terry Collins said he has as one of La Russa’s assistants. But there is the distressing possibility that the pitch that makes Dickey great, the knuckleball, . That’s because starting catcher Buster Posey of the Giants is desperately trying to finish the copy of “Catching the Knuckleball for Dummies” that he just ordered from Amazon and he might not make it. Either that, or he could show up behind the plate with a shrimp net and hope for the best.

Feel free to debate this up until Tuesday’s game. It might help keep you from noticing your sneakers are sizzling alongside those hot dogs.

The heat at Wimbledon, meanwhile, has almost entirely been emanating from Serena Williams’s racket. In a twist of events that almost no one can explain, , Williams has replaced her drama-filled recent fortunes with her dominant form of old. Her serve has again become a force of nature, , and has rocketed her into the final against Agniezka Radwanska after leaving Victoria Azarenka helpless in the semifinal, . This has the helpful side effect of sparing us , which vies for the most annoying on the tour. The final might not be any more competitive, with .

That match might not last long enough to qualify as a distraction from the N.B.A. free agency scene, which is currently being dominated by old guys changing teams. A day after the Steve Nash-to-Lakers move, 39-year-old , which is either a great move to add leadership, as , or a move that comes 10 years too late, as .

Nash’s signing has not stopped reverberating in the West, with pondering whether it helps the Lakers’ chances of signing Dwight Howard, and with his full endorsement. that it does speak well of Kobe Bryant’s maturity that he wanted Nash to come. Or perhaps he just wanted to feel less old.

There is no word on who Bryant thinks should start in the All-Star game. Hey, La Russa can use all the help he can get.

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Hiring Woodson the Logical Move for Knicks

Finally, the adopted the strategy that was less celebrated, more calculated. Call it Jeff Van Gundy revisited.

Some will wonder how the Knicks could not have at least talked to Jackson, owner of a record 11 championship rings with the Bulls and the Lakers, and renowned for enlightening Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on the virtues of sharing and leading them each to their first (of many) titles. Couldn’t he do the same for Carmelo Anthony?

Not to undervalue Jackson’s impact in Chicago and Los Angeles, but the stars he inherited in those cities were significantly more multidimensional and self-motivated than Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Anthony is not on that plane and may never be.

How would Anthony have responded to Jackson’s coming to Madison Square Garden and installing the triangle offense — a ball and body-movement system not designed for abundant isolation play? No doubt Jackson would have brought more credibility than Mike D’Antoni, whose high screen-and-roll offense made Anthony feel like a neglected bystander and led to D’Antoni’s resignation in March.

But Anthony was noticeably more productive playing for Woodson, who made sure he had the ball plenty and in the positions he preferred it. And it must be noted that James L. Dolan, the Garden chairman, has empowered Anthony, for better or worse, at the expense of his relationships with D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh, the former team president.

Dolan didn’t even support his coach when the marginally credentialed star Stephon Marbury declared himself the enemy of Larry Brown, whose brief coexistence with the team president Isiah Thomas in 2005-06 was part of the most calamitous and costly episode of the Dolan years. It was also in step with a decades-long pattern, no matter who ran the Garden. The building has been a breeding ground for hierarchal disharmony. Even Holzman, the ultimate company man, waged a covert war with General Manager Eddie Donovan upon his return to the bench in 1978 after being ousted a season and change earlier. He secretly negotiated with Sonny Werblin, the Garden’s president, for a clause that would have allowed him to assume Donovan’s title.

Holzman never did ascend to the job, as Dave DeBusschere was hired to run the Knicks in 1982 — but not before he had a new coach, Hubie Brown, chosen for him. Brown, who yielded to no one, had a predictably contentious working relationship with DeBusschere, resulting in both their dismissals.

Then came the initially promising Al Bianchi-Rick Pitino era, another shotgun marriage in which general manager and coach couldn’t even agree on what style of offense to run. Pat Riley lit up the Garden as savior-coach for a few years until he lost a power struggle with Dave Checketts. Riley’s replacement, Don Nelson, was talked up as an offensive genius, the D’Antoni of his time, but crossed Patrick Ewing in the manner of D’Antoni and Anthony, and that landed Van Gundy in the big-boy chair.

Here we come to the most instructive example of less ending up as more — and by extension, the case for Woodson. Van Gundy succeeded in continuing what Riley started, with the Knicks contending for several more seasons. Unlike Woodson, a moderately successful head coach in Atlanta, Van Gundy had been only an assistant. Like Woodson, he got the job by default and without the brand recognition the Knicks habitually sought — until his identity as the everyman coach became an appealing marketing spiel in itself.

Post-Van Gundy, Dolan resumed chasing names in the Hall of Famers Lenny Wilkens and Larry Brown to coach his failing team, along with Thomas, but Woodson has the only playoff victory to show since Van Gundy.

It is almost laughable to think that a power broker like Jackson could have operated in Dolan’s empire, where the party line is the only line. To get the job, Woodson had to discard his longtime agent, reportedly at Dolan’s insistence, and so unremarkable was the occasion to Dolan that the Knicks released news of the hire on the eve of the holiday weekend.

Or maybe it was part of the plan to underscore the point that the move was as inevitable as it was logical. In that context, Woodson was clearly the better choice for what is most important, a cohesive chain of command, as evidenced here by the Indiana/Bob Knight roots he shares with General Manager Glen Grunwald.

Of course, Thomas, still believed to be an unofficial adviser to Dolan, is part of that fraternity, too. The decision to pass on Jackson notwithstanding, the Knicks may yet have their uneasy triangle.