Knicks Set to Match Lin Contract, Nets End Talks for Howard

Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers reaches for the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 20, 2012 in Los Angeles. Photographer: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks are ready to match the Houston Rockets’ offer to Jeremy Lin, while the Brooklyn Nets have given up on signing the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said “absolutely” when asked if the team would bring back Lin. The point guard has signed a $28.8 million offer sheet with the Rockets, who dumped him last season.

National Basketball Association teams were allowed to start signing free agents yesterday after the league set the salary cap at $58.04 million per team.

“Lin has always been a big part of what we’re trying to do as we move forward,” Woodson told reporters. “You can’t lose your starting job based on injuries. Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. He’s not going to be punished for that.”

Lin had surgery in April to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee. He missed the Knicks’ opening-round playoff series with the Miami Heat, which New York lost 4-1.

Lin, responding to a Tweet asking him about the reports that he was unhappy with the Knicks, said, “Why do u guys believe everything? No quotes from me = probably not true.”

The Harvard University point guard revitalized the Knicks when the team pulled him from the bench to fill in for injured players. Lin already had been let go by the Golden State Warriors and Rockets.

Kidd, Novak Next

The Knicks will try to sign Jason Kidd and Steve Novak today, Woodson said, adding he was unsure of the status of Landry Fields, who signed a three-year deal worth $18.7 million with the Toronto Raptors, the New York Times reported.

The Knicks signed Marcus Camby, J. R. Smith and James White yesterday.

The Nets signed Deron Williams to a contract, which ESPN said is worth $98 million over the next five seasons, and reached an agreement with Brook Lopez.

With the Nets dropping out of contention for Howard, the Magic may turn their attention to a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers or Rockets, ESPN said.

The 6-foot-10 Howard is a three-time NBA defensive player of the year and has averaged 18.4 points and 13 rebounds over eight seasons in Orlando.

The Nets also got forward Reggie Evans from the Los Angeles Clippers, who have the right to swap second-round picks with Brooklyn in the 2016 NBA draft.

The NBA champion Miami Heat signed Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Clippers signed free agent guard Jamal Crawford, a 12-year veteran who played last season with the Portland Trail Blazers. Crawford, who ended the season ranked first in free-throw percentage, connected on 93 percent of his free throws, 38 percent of his field goals and 31 percent of his 3-point goal attempts.

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