Jeremy Lin’s Future With Knicks Seems Uncertain

The answer, as of midnight, was anything but clear.

In a surprise move, the Knicks struck a deal to reacquire Raymond Felton, the veteran point guard, sparking immediate, furious speculation that the franchise was ready to let Lin leave for Houston.

While fans were bemoaning Lin’s possible departure on Twitter and on blogs, no one associated with the Knicks or with Lin would confirm anything late Saturday night. Speculation and anxiety ruled the evening.

Lin, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year, $25 million offer sheet with the Rockets on Friday. The paperwork was delivered to the Knicks on Saturday, starting a three-day clock for the Knicks to either match the offer or let Lin go.

The deal to reacquire Felton — who played 54 games for the Knicks in 2010-11 — was taken by many as an indication that the Knicks would let Lin depart, despite his wild success on the court last season and his global marketability.

Felton will receive a three-year, $10 million contract in a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to a person briefed on the details. The Knicks will also receive Kurt Thomas, another former Knick, in the deal. In exchange, Portland will receive Jared Jeffries (in a sign-and-trade arrangement), plus the nonguaranteed contract of Dan Gadzuric, the Knicks’ second-round draft pick in 2016 and the rights to two overseas players.

It has been widely assumed that the Knicks would match Houston’s offer and keep Lin, despite a salary increase to $14.9 million in the third year of the deal. Team officials have said as much for weeks, both before and after the Rockets made the offer.

Two reports late Saturday cast doubt on that assumption. The first came via the Twitter account of a South Carolina television reporter, Mark Haggard, who said that Felton had told him that the Knicks planned to let Lin leave for Houston. A short time later, Yahoo Sports reported that Lin “appears close” to joining the Rockets, in light of Felton’s deal.

Knicks officials declined to comment on the reports. Felton’s agent, Tony Dutt, could not be reached.

Coach Mike Woodson said earlier this week the Knicks would not only match Houston’s offer, but that Lin would be the team’s starting point guard. He reiterated that point even after the Knicks signed Jason Kidd, a 10-time All-Star. Woodson said that Kidd would be the backup.

Felton signed with the Knicks in July 2010 but was dealt to Denver the following February as part of the trade for Carmelo Anthony. He averaged 17.1 points and 9 assists in the former coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.

The arrival of Felton does not necessarily spell the end of Linsanity in New York. It may simply telegraph concerns with the Knicks’ point-guard tandem. Kidd is 39, and the 23-year-old Lin is unproven over a full season. It is conceivable that Knicks officials simply want a proven veteran in case Kidd breaks down and Lin goes bust.

Teams rarely play three point guards. However, Kidd has played off guard, and it is not inconceivable that the Knicks could use all three, especially after losing Landry Fields to Toronto and given the uncertainty over Iman Shumpert, who is recovering from knee surgery.

The Knicks let Fields leave Saturday, after choosing not to match his three-year, $18.7 million offer sheet from the Toronto Raptors. That decision came after nearly three solid days of silence on the matter, in keeping with team policy. The Knicks had until Saturday night to decide on Fields, who signed his offer sheet on Wednesday.

Fields, a second-round draft pick in 2010, has started at shooting guard the last two seasons, although he struggled badly last season, averaging just 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. J. R. Smith, who re-signed with the Knicks last week, will most likely slide into Fields’s spot.

James White, who played the last two years in the highest level in Italian professional basketball, also signed a one-year contract with the Knicks. Eventually, Shumpert will return to the rotation as well, after recovering from knee surgery; he is expected to be out until January.

Rockets officials were frustrated in repeated attempts Saturday to deliver Lin’s offer sheet to the Knicks and to get the three-day clock started. The Knicks appeared to be avoiding the delivery, according to people involved in the process. The Rockets finally succeeded Saturday evening. The Knicks have until Tuesday night to decide Lin’s future.

REBOUNDS

The Nets found their backup point guard, signing C. J. Watson to a two-year deal at the veteran’s minimum. The second year is a player option. Watson, a five-year veteran, averaged 9.7 points and 4.1 assists for the Chicago Bulls last season, including 25 games as a starter when Derrick Rose was injured. Watson will play behind Deron Williams, filling one of the Nets’ biggest needs. The Nets are still searching for a backups at center and small forward and are working to re-sign Kris Humphries, their starting power forward.

Jeremy Lin Signs Offer Sheet; Knicks Have Time to React

The , however, had not received the offer, and will have until Tuesday to match the deal. They will probably take their time before the 72-hour deadline expires, a process most N.B.A. teams use to make the offering team wait while they try to get under their own salary cap.

The Rockets backloaded the third year of the contract to discourage the Knicks from matching it. Lin will make $5 million and $5.2 million the first two years but $14.9 million in the third year.

Lin agreed to sign the offer sheet more than a week ago after a meeting in Houston. The Rockets first offered a four-year deal worth $28.8 million. The fourth year of that deal was the Rockets’ option, which put the true commitment at only $19.5 million.

Earlier this week, Coach Mike Woodson said the Knicks would match Houston’s offer. Woodson also said Lin would be the Knicks’ starting point guard.

With that knowledge — and the fact that the Rockets could wait and use the moratorium on signings to restructure their offer — Houston decided to put pressure on the Knicks by increasing the salary for Lin’s third year.

In the original offer, the Rockets forced the Knicks to match a third-year salary of $9.3 million. Houston now hopes the added $5.6 million in the third year will affect the Knicks’ decision to keep Lin, a person briefed on the negotiations said.

What is clear is that both the Knicks and the Rockets feel they need Lin, who averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists in 25 games as a starter last season.

Houston lost Goran Dragic, who started 28 games, to the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets also traded Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a potential lottery pick, clearing salary-cap space with the hope of adding Dwight Howard.

If Lin remains with the Knicks, their 2014-15 roster will have four players — Carmelo Anthony Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Lin — making a combined $77 million.

James White, Forward in Italy, Agrees to Deal With Knicks

Steve Nash, the longtime Phoenix Suns star and part-time New York resident, is now the pivot point upon which the ’s free agent market turns. Four teams — the , Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers — are vying for his services and are prepared to spend lavishly despite his age (38) and history of back trouble.

Knicks officials would love to install Nash as the starter and mentor to Jeremy Lin. But Lin’s status is also in flux. He was in Houston on Wednesday for a meeting with the Houston Rockets, who were expected to tender an offer.

The Knicks can match any offer to Lin, because he is a restricted free agent. Signing both Lin and Nash could test the bounds of the N.B.A.’s new supertax on high-spending teams.

The Knicks once seemed the least likely destination for Nash because of their salary-cap constraints. But they were pushing hard Wednesday afternoon to find a way to land him in a sign-and-trade deal, even as he considered other offers.

The Raptors have already offered Nash a deal worth a reported $36 million over three years. The Mavericks can offer just as much, if they are inclined. The Knicks have only a $3.09 million cap exception, but they could manufacture a richer contract through a sign-and-trade deal.

The details are complicated, and there was no indication Wednesday that anything was imminent.

The Suns are willing to grant Nash his wish and send him to New York on a three-year deal worth about $25 million, according to , but the Knicks would have to part ways with their best young prospect, Iman Shumpert, in return.

To make the deal work under salary-cap rules and to give Nash a starting salary around $8.3 million, the Knicks would have to send Phoenix nearly every minor player available, including Toney Douglas, Dan Gadzuric, Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson, as well as Shumpert.

The Knicks lost Landry Fields as a potential trading chip when he reached a handshake agreement with the Raptors on a three-year, $20 million offer sheet. The Knicks could have given Fields up to $5.3 million in a starting salary in the sign-and-trade deal, allowing them to offer Nash a bigger contract.

Fields averaged 9 points and 4 rebounds a game last year, numbers that declined from his rookie season.

Fields is expected to sign Toronto’s offer sheet once the N.B.A. moratorium is lifted on July 11. The Knicks will have three days to match the offer — though they have not given any signs they will — but they cannot use Fields in a sign-and-trade deal once he signs it.

Nash is reportedly pushing the Suns to trade him to either the Knicks or the Lakers. The Suns’ owner, Robert Sarver, is willing to help Nash get to New York, but not to the Lakers, a divisional rival.

Whether or not they land Nash, the Knicks need a veteran point guard to complement the 23-year-old Lin and to stabilize their backcourt. Presumably, Nash would also bring order to the clumsy pairing of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Signing Nash would give Lin time to develop. Lin became a sensation in February and had some brilliant moments, but he has started just 25 games in the league and remains an unproven commodity over a full season.

Lin averaged 15 points and 6 assists in 35 games with the Knicks last year after the team claimed him off waivers from the Golden State Warriors.

The Knicks have made it clear throughout the offseason that resigning Lin was a top priority for two reasons: his improved play and his highly profitable marketability in New York.

On Wednesday morning, the Knicks reached an agreement on an offer sheet for a one-year deal with James White, who spent the last three years playing overseas. White, who was drafted in the second round in 2006, will make the league minimum of $854,000.

The signing of White was the Knicks’ first indication they are prepared to start replacing their backcourt.

White, who is 6-foot-7, has played the past two seasons in the Italian Serie A league, the country’s highest professional level. He averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists a game last season for VL Pesaro.

This will be his third stint in the N.B.A.

White, 29, said he planned to be a valued role player for the Knicks.

“I’m not coming in to be a guy who doesn’t play,” he said. “I think I have the ability to contribute a lot and to make everyone around me better.”

Besides Lin and Fields, the Knicks are also still hoping to re-sign guards Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.

Novak was able to retain his early Bird rights last week, which allows the Knicks to re-sign him for up to $5.3 million. Smith declined his option with the team last month, but he hopes to return for close to $3 million next season.

Rebounds

The Nets are reworking the contract of the recently acquired Mirza Teletovic, in order to maintain cap flexibility and to keep alive their faint hopes of landing Dwight Howard. Teletovic agreed in principle Tuesday to sign for the $5 million midlevel exception. By rule, a team using the midlevel must abide by a hard cap of $74 million, which would virtually eliminate the Nets’ chance of acquiring Howard, and perhaps preclude them even from resigning Kris Humphries.

At the Nets’ request, Teletovic and his agent returned to the table on Wednesday and were moving toward a new agreement for the “mini-midlevel” of $3.09 million.