Now it appears the mazelike fine print of the collective bargaining agreement may do just that, and move one of the league's most marketable stars out of the world's largest media market. Jeremy Lin, who emerged in the marketing bonanza that was "Linsanity" this season, is no sure thing to re-sign with the New York Knicks as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Lin received a victory in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when the term "Linsanity" was registered for him over a California businessman with no ties to Lin who reportedly applied for the trademark first, Newsday reports. Now Lin and four other players wait for what they hope is another victory with an NBA arbitrator over whether their teams can use special rights to exceed the salary cap to sign them.
If the arbitrator rules for Lin, Knicks teammate Steve Novak, Clippers guard Chauncey Billups and Trail Blazers forward J.J. Hickson, their teams would keep so-called "Bird rights" to exceed the cap, according to Newsday. If the arbitrator rules for the league — which is believed to be the more likely ruling — those players would only be eligible for the $5 million mid-level exception.
That would complicate Lin's future with the Knicks, who have the right to match any offer Lin receives as a free agent. Another team could not offer Lin more than that in the first two years of a deal, but they could offer more than $5 million in the third and fourth years of a deal, according to ESPN. The Knicks would probably exceed the salary cap and possibly have to pay luxury tax in order to match such an offer.
"Linsanity" now belongs to Lin, but whether he gets to exercise those marketing rights on Broadway is far from certain.