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Houston-NY bidding war for Lin escalates to US$25.5 mil.

NEW YORK -- Taiwanese-American NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin signed an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets yesterday, leaving it up to the New York Knicks to see how much they want him, according to multiple reports in the United States.

The Knicks can keep Lin if they match the three-year US$25.5 million offer sheet within three days, but the Rockets made New York's decision more difficult by upping Lin's salary in the third year of the deal to US$14.9 million, from a previous offer of US$9.3 million.

According to sources cited in the reports, Lin did not sign the Rockets initial offer because the pay in the third year was too low.

The Rockets originally offered Lin a US$28.80 million four-year deal, with the fourth year being a team option at US$9.3 million.

he New York Daily News reported that the offer sheet Lin signed will pay him US$5 million in the first year, US$5.20 million in the second year, and US$15 million in the final year of the deal.

Though the Knicks can match the offer, doing so will be costly because the team is already over the salary cap and will have to pay a luxury tax, the Daily News said.

Matching the contract would mean the club will have invested over US$75 million for four players — Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler — during the 2014-2015 season, the report said.

That could put the Knicks over the luxury tax threshold, which will be US$70.3 million for the 2012-2013 season, even before any other players are signed, the report.

Although the Knicks have said they are willing to pay whatever it takes to keep Lin, the luxury tax becomes more punitive than in the past in the 2013-2014 season and could make the team have second thoughts.

Houston desperately needs a point guard after it lost Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic in the off-season, and the Knicks also have a void at the position, with only veterans Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd, who are both over 35 years old, in the fold.

Beyond that, however, the Knicks also love Lin's marketing potential after his sudden emergence on the scene in February, when he captivated fans around the world with his rise from obscurity to lead the Knicks to seven straight wins.

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