Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

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Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

From Comcast SportsNet
Back in February, Jeremy Lin was Kobe Bryant's equal on the court and at the souvenir stand during a mesmerizing period that NBA commissioner David Stern said he had "never quite seen anything like." There was no way the New York Knicks were letting Lin get away back then, when he was the biggest thing in the basketball. Things are different now. Lin no longer plays for a coach whose offense seems designed for him. He's coming off knee surgery and would come at a monstrous cost -- thanks to an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets he signed -- even for one of the league's richest teams. So what once would have been an easy answer now creates so many questions. Do the Knicks want Lin back? Does Lin want to go back? When will it be resolved? The last one should be resolved the easiest. Teams have three days to match an offer sheet for their restricted free agents, so the Rockets believe the clock expires late Tuesday. Except the Knicks have never confirmed if they received the offer sheet from the Rockets on Saturday, so it's possible they have a different deadline in mind, which could even lead to some kind of dispute or protest. The contract is for three years and about 25 million, an enormous figure for someone who has made 25 starts. After paying Lin about 5 million per year the first two seasons, it balloons to nearly 15 million in the final year but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the harsher penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the original offer Lin had agreed to were for four years and about 28 million, creating speculation that he went back to the Rockets and asked for something that would be tougher for the Knicks to match. A number of fans want them to do it anyway, more than 5,000 signing an online petition at Change.org asking the Knicks to keep him. Team officials, who repeatedly said they intended to keep Lin before he signed the offer, won't comment on their plans now. "I hope we get it done, man. I hope we can get it done," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. "I would love to see him back, honestly, I would definitely love to see him back. But knowing the business of basketball, it's kind of a tough situation, kind of for both parties. With Jeremy, I know he definitely would want to be back in New York, and with the team, (owner James) Dolan definitely wants him back." Anthony had called the Rockets' offer a "ridiculous contract" on Sunday and said he wasn't surprised by the backlash that followed. "It was ridiculous for them to do what they did, as far as throwing that out there and making it tough on us to sign him back," Anthony said. Maybe the Knicks could have avoided this by making Lin an offer right away. Instead they let him find one elsewhere first, which is what many teams do with restricted free agents. Given his popularity in New York and all the opportunities that affords, it's difficult to imagine he'd want to sabotage his chances of returning. Yet maybe he doesn't see the same potential for himself under Mike Woodson as he showed in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. Or perhaps he's one of the many who sees the futility of the Anthony-Amare Stoudemire pairing and doesn't want the burden of being the point guard charged with making it work. And maybe the Knicks don't believe he is, anyway. They made a veteran point guard a top priority in free agency, missing out on Steve Nash but signing Jason Kidd. Then they agreed to a sign-and-trade with Portland to bring back Raymond Felton to New York in a deal that was completed on Monday. None brings the marketing potential of Lin, whose story of undrafted Harvard Universty graduate to unexpected NBA star was a hit around the world. (How many other players went into free agency with "Time" magazine list of top 100 most influential people on their resume?) That gives Houston plenty of reason to want him back. The NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent would continue to grow the popularity the Rockets already enjoy in Asia thanks to their retired star, Yao Ming. The Rockets had Lin on their roster during the preseason before waiving him, with two point guards ahead of him on the depth chart and an open roster spot needed to add a big man. It wasn't long before they wished they'd done differently, general manager Daryl Morey writing on Twitter during Lin's dazzling span, when he averaged 24.6 points and 9.2 assists in 10 games from Feb. 4-20, that cutting Lin was a mistake. Now it's up to the Knicks. Keep Linsanity where it was born or risk the same regret.

OFFSEASON

Turner: Ainge 'seemed confident' about Celtics chances of signing Horford

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Turner: Ainge 'seemed confident' about Celtics chances of signing Horford

After signing with the Blazers, Evan Turner has been making the rounds showering praise on the Celtics organization and fans. He also left a farewell gift for those excited about free agency: Turner told the Boston Globe that Danny Ainge “seemed confident” at the Celtics’ chances of signing free agent center Al Horford.

Previous reports indicated that the Celtics plan to make a max-contract offer to Horford when they meet him Friday night in Atlanta. The Rockets are the only other team that has reportedly met with the former Hawks All-Star, and Houston's situation isn’t nearly as attractive as Boston’s.

If the Celtics do manage to land Horford on Friday, they’d obviously be adding a former All-Star who’d immediately help the team on both ends of the floor. Immediately, though, Horford would give them another recruiter. Horford and Durant reportedly would like to play with each other, so having him enter the room might help their chances at luring Durant to Boston during Saturday's meeting.

As for Turner, he told the Globe that Ainge expressed he would like him back, but would've had to take a pay cut and a reduced role.

"I liked Boston a lot, bro. The organization, and it’s just a sports city and the city is super nice," Turner told the Globe. "If you put money and everything aside, I would play in Boston every single day of the week. Seeing all those Hall of Famers come back and everything, that’s a real franchise."

The Celtics will likely be saying singing a similar tune to both Horford and Durant this weekend.

After ‘tough month,’ Farrell understands speculation on his job status

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After ‘tough month,’ Farrell understands speculation on his job status

BOSTON - With the Red Sox reeling coming off a month in which they went 10-16 and dropped a handful of games in the standings, speculation has recently focused on John Farrell's job security.

Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox' president of baseball operations, told reporters Thursday that Farrell's job status was not a focus and that the entire organization had to perform better. Dombrowski added that it's seldom that one person is responsible for a downturn in play.

"We've come off a tough month and finished a disappointing trip through Texas and Tampa,'' acknowledged Farrell when asked about the chatter regarding his job status. "I can understand the question and the potential speculation that's out there. But our expectation is to win and that doesn't change. The focus daily is that, is to go out and put together an effort to win.      

"My communication with Dave is very consistent. I think he's confident in my focus  and that's to win each and every day. That's where we stand. We're looking forward to  the opportunity to start this final homestand before the [All Star] break, so that gets underway tonight.''

Farrell was also asked about the dichotmy that existed between his own evaluation of David Price's outing Wednesday and Price's own estimation. 

Farrell said post-game that he believed Price "probably had his best stuff of the season, in terms of velocity and in terms of the shape of his secondary pitches.''

Price, who was in full self-flagellation mode, offered a slightly contradictory assessment.

"Changeup, that's probably the worst changeup I've had in a month,'' he said. "Curveball was awful. Can't get my cutter or my slider where I want to. I'm just bad right now.''

Farrell was questioned Friday about the seemingly contradictory analysis.

"The commentary was, here was a guy coming off an outing where he had best velocity he's shown all year -- up to 97 mph,'' said Farrell, "strikes out 10 over six-plus innings. He made some mistakes in the middle of the middle of the plate. But in terms of just raw stuff, I thought he showed a curveball that had much more consistent depth to it than in more recent starts.

So in terms of raw stuff, I thought it was one of his better outings of the year. The execution?

No, that wasn't as good as the game against San Francisco or the game against Seattle.

"Whether that's a differing opinion from someone else? That was just my view of the raw stuff.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

O’Sullivan will return to make start for Red Sox on Sunday

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O’Sullivan will return to make start for Red Sox on Sunday

BOSTON - Sean O'Sullivan -- and not Aaron Wilkerson -- is the Red Sox choice for Sunday's plug-in starter as the Sox search for a temporary replacement for Eduardo Rodriguez's spot in their starting rotation.
      
"That was the recommendation,'' said John Farrell of the choice to go with  O'Sullivan. "Granted, Wilkerson's been throwing the ball well there. But the recommendation was for Sean to come back here and pitch on Sunday.''
      
O'Sullivan made two starts earlier this season, allowing four runs in six innings to the New York Yankees on May 10 before being battered for six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings against Houston five days later.
      
Overall, O'Sullivan is 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 starts for the Pawsox this season.
      
Wilkerson, who was pitching in independent ball just two years ago, is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in eight appearances -- seven starts -- at Pawtucket.
      
O'Sullivan's stay with the Red Sox is expcted to be brief, since the Red Sox can through next week and first 10 days of the second half without a fifth starter.
      
"It's likely that spot will come up just once,'' confirmed Farrell. "With next Thursday's off-day, we've got a chance to make sure that [Rick] Porcello and [David] Price get on the mound before the break and that's the direction we're leaining in right now.''