So maybe Jeremy Lin isn’t a total lock to return to Knicks

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It’s been the conventional wisdom around the league that Jeremy Lin would return to Knicks. They can match the $5 million any team could offer him next season and he is worth considerably more than that, somewhat on the court but more in terms of ticket sales, sponsors and marketing. He’s a steal at that price.

But with the Knicks having long-term salary cap concerns, there is one way a team could pry Lin away from the Knicks, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.

While both Lin and the Knicks are hoping for a reunion, sources say that if any clubs offer Lin, a restricted free agent, a backloaded contract that pays him an eight-figure salary in the third and fourth years, the Knicks could be given pause about matching the offer.

The Knicks, like a lot of big market teams, are frightened of the escalating tax that kicks in fully in a couple years. If you are going to pay a guy a lot after that, he had better be worth it.

Those are called “poison pill” offers and a tea like Toronto could consider it. But do you really want to pay Lin — a good point guard that excelled for a short stretch in Mike D’Antoni’s point-guard friendly system but has yet to prove he can do it consistently otherwise — in excess of $10 million a year in three years?

Hard to see any team taking that gamble. But if the Raptors or another team get desperate enough they might put some kind of pill in that third or fourth year. If for no other reason than to hurt the Knicks.