If this Jeremy Lin free agent saga seems familiar to Mets fans, it could be because it is eerily similar to that of Jose Reyes.
In both cases, the teams had a chance to sign their man, but they made the risky move of sending them out into the open market to gauge their value. And in the end, that value was too rich for the teams (assuming the Knicks do not match Houston’s $25 million offer, which appears more and more likely as the deadline approaches).
There are, of course, some differences. Unlike MLB, the NBA has a rule that once an offer sheet is signed, that is the deal that must be matched. The Knicks now cannot offer a different contract to Lin — it is either this or nothing.
The Mets could have offered something different to Reyes once he got his Marlins offer, but they chose not to.
This leads to another glaring difference — it appears the Knicks genuinely wanted Lin back. They may deny it, but the Mets had no interest in re-signing Reyes. You just don’t treat a player like they treated Reyes if they really wanted him back.
This is why the Knicks made a huge mistake. They should have just signed Lin when they could have. I’ll bet he would have taken a four year deal at $5 million per year. This would have fit into the team’s budget without that insane $14.8 million third year that balloons even higher because of the luxury tax. It would have been close to what Houston is offering, and Lin could have easily made up the difference with New York-based endorsements.
The Knicks, like the Mets, played a dangerous game. It’s working out so far for the Mets — they are winning, Ruben Tejada is playing very well at a fraction of the cost and Reyes is not having a great year, nor are the Marlins. Will things work out the same way for the Knicks, and will they continue for the Mets? Time will tell.