NEW YORK - Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American NBA star whose rise to stardom sparked global interest, is not assured of returning to the New York Knicks next season, his agent told the New York Post.
The newspaper reported on Monday that Roger Montgomery does not expect talks over a new deal for Lin to be simple even though interim Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Lin, who becomes a free agent July 1, would "absolutely" return.
"We're not anticipating that's going to happen," Montgomery said. "We don't have assurances of anything. I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I'm not going to assume anything.
"We're waiting to see what happens."
Under league rules, the Knicks can match any offer made to Lin, who made only $762,000 last season but saw his replica jersey become the NBA's No. 2 seller after he leaped from bench-warmer obscurity to hero last February.
Lin, a 24-year-old American whose parents are from Taiwan, became a global sensation as the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA after he was forced into starting once two Knicks starters were injured.
Days away from being dropped by his third NBA team, the Harvard graduate made the most of his chance. With drives to the basket, pinpoint passes and top shooting efforts, Lin sparked a seven-game win streak for the Knicks.
The phenomenon known as "Linsanity" followed as he remained a key playmaker for the Knicks after the stars returned, although his season ended early after a torn meniscus in his left knee required surgery on April 2.
Lin, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists for the season, will be sought as a free agent by the Toronto Raptors, the Post reported, citing an unnamed source.
An ongoing arbitration dispute between the NBA and its players union will decide if the Knicks can spend over the salary cap to re-sign players, which would allow the Knicks to keep Lin and seek more experienced point guard.
Should the union lose, the Knicks would need that money to keep Lin and rivals could backload contract offers to push the Knicks beyond the salary cap later in Lin's contract.
Lin's profitability in the NBA's growing Asian market will be critical in the equation, but his performance on the court will likely play the most vital role in judging his value for the Knicks and their rivals.
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