Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 at 1:10 pm  |  46 responses

Jeremy Lin Says He ‘Preferred’ to Play for the Knicks

Jeremy Lin maybe excited about joining the Houston Rockets — a development that continues to be a shock to many — but Lin says that his heart belongs to New York. Surely, this will make Knicks fans feel much better about this entire fiasco (or, y’know, not at all.) Per SI: “The call was from New York general manager Glen Grunwald and the conversation lasted no more than 30 seconds. Grunwald’s message, Lin said, was simple and direct: ‘We wanted to keep you, but it couldn’t work out. Tell your family I say hello, and good luck the rest of the way.’ That was it. One of the more intriguing and publicly debated personnel decisions in NBA history ended in half a minute. No questions were asked, no pointed comments were uttered and no animated feelings were expressed. Lin, the undrafted 23-year-old who rose to global stardom in his first 25 starts after being cut twice, politely told Grunwald, ‘I just want to thank you. Best of luck in the future.’ [...] ‘Honestly, I preferred New York,’ Lin says. ‘But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. … Now I’m definitely relieved.’ [...] The last time Lin talked to Knicks owner James Dolan was right before Game 5 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, when New York was down, 3-1, to eventual NBA champion Miami. Lin, who had suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee, had been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and had already missed the first four games of this playoff series. Now Dolan, with point guard Baron Davis also injured, wondered about Lin’s availability. But the matter had already been settled. ‘Every single vet on our team that has been in the league longer than five years pulled me aside and told me that I shouldn’t play,’ Lin says. ‘And I had arguments with them about why I should.’ Dolan — who didn’t talk to Lin often but had generally been ‘really nice to me’ –wound up expressing support. ‘I have plans for you in the future,’ Lin recalls the owner saying. ‘This is a long-term investment. Don’t rush back.’ [...] ‘I love the New York fans to death,’ Lin says. ‘That’s the biggest reason why I wanted to return to New York. The way they embraced me, the way they supported us this past season, was better than anything I’ve ever seen or experienced. I’ll go to my grave saying that. What New York did for me was unbelievable. I wanted to play in front of those fans for the rest of my career.’”

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    The Knicks had the 6’3 version of Yao Ming and they just let him walk away. The luxury tax isnt a real issue. All the employee’s in the nail shops across the country have Lin jerseys. They would have made their money back through merchandising.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Brad N


  • http://www.slamonline.com 19821982

    No sh!t. No one wants to play for Houston right now.

  • Kalduayam

    Good luck at houston jeremy. From now on i’m a rockets fan, byebye knicks!!

  • http://www.fullc0urtpress.com KHoliday

    If you preferred to play in New York, what was the reason for you going back to re-negotiate your offer sheet? Doesnt make sense to me.

  • http://www.slamonline.com nbk

    Jeremy Lin preferred to play wherever paid him the most. Can’t blame him. But also can’t act like he’s telling the truth here. Either way, saying this is a quick way to draw apprehension from the Houston fan base.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Why would you go to a team that cut you and almost put you out of the NBA, now they want you back as a cash cow more than your playing ability. Houston is Lin-using. Lin knows he tried to out think the Knicks and it turned on him. Lin had a chance to be a career backup in the the BIG LIGHTS of NY, making money off the court and name recognition. In two years Lin will be just another below average player, like he was before. Flip Murray was Lin before him, and he came back to earth.

  • http://www.twitter.com/clearheatvision Raj

    @Slick Ric


  • Sizzle

    Co-sign KHoliday. Going back to the Rockets to re-negotiate after the Knicks said they would initially match showed that $$ was the most important factor. I now feel bad for this kid. He went from a place where he was beloved and could escape blame in a Knicks loss, to a Rocket team where expectations of him will be through the roof. Essentially every loss will be blamed on him…

  • RunNGun

    @THESEED why would someone take a pay cut?

  • Jake

    Why would someone take a pay cut to be a backup when you can take MORE money and be a starter for the foreseeable future? It’s not like this kid is a slouch point guard. Look at the numbers, they don’t lie. He did it against marquee teams for an extended period of time. If it was 5 games against the t-wolves,bobcats,nets,wizards and warriors I would have questioned this move. He shat on my lakers, among other teams. he deserves respect, and I would rather take a chance on someone like Jeremy Lin than scores of the other washouts who have earned far bigger contracts than him. Furthermore, expectations aren’t going to be through the roof. Any Rockets fan with half a brain knows they are rebuilding. When you unload Scola and Kyle Lowry in one off-season the writing is on the wall. That being said, they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs if the cards fall right. They’ve got a good young core and something to build on.

  • Anon e Mouse

    I’m from the days when fans wanted the best player and were not bothered by whether he was a cash cow. I don’t own Knicks shares and I’m not an owner so why would that bother me much?. I am glad we finally made a sensible decision not to throw silly money at a decent player with potential. That said, I did enjoy the moment, and Linsanity was fun for a while there.

  • http://www.slamonline.com 19821982

    It’s not really a pay cut if he wasn’t being paid yet. Two different places offered him two different salaries, one being lower (and initially also was the same salary offered at both teams) but also offering an already adoring fan base, familiarity, a guaranteed starting job for a high profile team, and Jason Kidd as back up, meaning he’d get at least 3.5 quarters of burn. The second team then re-upped the price, intending to force the first team, that had already agreed to match their price to rethink their position. Lin decided that there was no way the Knicks would refuse paying the now ballooned price, and thought – hey, good job, you just got a raise. No one is to blame, per se, because it’s all business. But it’s not a pay cut, and he literally did go for the money vs winning games – even if he, and most people as well, didn’t think the gamble was that huge that the Knicks would refuse.

  • http://www.slamonline.com 19821982

    @Jake Houston won’t make the playoffs for at least 3 years, and that’s pending picking up some all-stars.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    If you don’t already know, That first comment is a troll and not me. SMH

  • LA Huey

    Ric, all the SLAM regulars know by now, homie.

  • JT

    #1 NBA merchandising is split between all 30 NBA teams
    #2 Lin is not worth $30 mill in year 3. You save that for true superstars like Lebron
    #3 The knicks will still be 4th/5th in east with Lin or without. he is not a difference maker on the court.
    #4 His run was against a bunch of terrible teams minus lakers and mavericks who got swept in 1st round
    #5 The jump in cablevision stock was from the Time Warner cable deal that got settled in midst of Linsanity
    #6 If Lin wanted to stay he would not have went back to houston after knicks said they would match 1st contract and have Houston make a poison pill so the knicks couldn’t match 2nd offer. Lin wanted to be in houston. He would have easily made up the salary difference between contracts 1 & 2 off the court in NYC.
    #7 We will see if he can really play and carry a team in houston. There was a reason he was cut so many times but maybe he figured it out.
    #8 That performance against the Heat in regular season opened many eyes.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric


  • O

    Lin played himself on SO many level during his free agency period starting with sitting out the playoffs so that Miami wouldn’t drive his value down.

  • LA Huey

    ^Ask Grant Hill how wise it is to play hurt in the playoffs just before free agency.

  • Starks

    like everyone in the nba says, its a business, there is no loyalty in the nba like in other sports. I cant blame lin for going after the money, but dont expect not to get booed out of msg next time u step in NYC, thats the nature of the beast, all in all, we may be better off with felton and kidd. sure lin was a marketing sensation all that but not worth the money right now, maybe in the future who knows

  • Anon e Mouse

    Starks, I doubt he’ll be getting booed when he hits the Garden. And you are spot on that he isn’t worth the money yet. Even if he turns into an A-list player, I’ll be happy for him, but I’m glad we didn’t spend the money.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    ^It’s very likely he’ll be booed. Lin’s facebook/twitter is completely filled with people (I assume mainly Knicks fans) hurling disgusting comments at him.

  • O

    Lin’ll get booed for sure. I just seriously hope the fans don’t hurl racist sh*t at him. That ain’t necessary on any level. Have some class, New York.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    LA Huey
    That’s not totally correct. Grant Hill still got paid all his money, he was just never healthy in Orlando, partially because the medical staff their screwed him.

  • LeShawn

    This is the dude’s first big contract. You can’t predict what will happen tomm, say god forbids a player gets injured.

    Is there any team that will feel sorry for the guy and say let us take care of you have a few million even though you are no longer an asset?

    Can anyone here say that they would give up a couple of million dollars?

    His marketing value won’t change because he’s not on the knicks. However the knicks “upside” for marketing will. Just check out MSG stock and see what investors are pricing in or discounting.

    My 2 cents.

  • KH10

    THEN DON’T AGREE TO RIDICULOUS CONTRACTS WITH OTHER TEAMS YOU FREAKIN IDIOT! Is an extra $10 million worth it when you’re about to become the most popular player on the planet?
    Lin and the Rockets deserve each other, they are going nowhere.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    mainly because Grant got a staph infection and played in the playoffs with an already broken ankle – because of the pressure he was feeling to play. Medical staff was not supportive of him playing, as i’ve heard it.

  • pposse

    this guy Linn is taking it a little too far, between him having to address and cater to knicks fans by telling them he ‘prefers’ to play at MSG and the ESPYS where he decided to perform an inaugural address for all watching, is just plain irritating.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    @nbk, I read that they (Pistons) just gave him some painkillers that hid the pain to encourage him to just play on…(I think it was Detroit). I think I may have even read it from SLAM if I remember correctly…

  • http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/grant-hill-says-detroit-orlando-mismanaged-injuries-042711 nbk

    you are right niQ. Detroit’s medical staff f*cked Hill over. Click my name, i found one of his interviews.

  • Mariano

    I love how people say Lin is going nowhere with the Rockets while Yao played with them his entire career and he was one of the most popular players in the world

  • http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/grant-hill-says-detroit-orlando-mismanaged-injuries-042711 nbk

    Yao is actually Chinese. And Yao was a much much better player.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    My guess is Lin plays 30 minutes a game, averages 18 and 6 on 39% shooting and 4 turnovers a game. Fans go crazy cause his scoring stats “lived up to the hype.” Actual junkies shake their heads.

  • http://www.nba.com/knicks danfields

    sure he does, any hype around him will only be half the size in houston plus the rockets dont look as if they would be able to make the playoffs soon. not even if he plays like during linsanity.

    wouldve been better for everyone if he just stuck with the 1st rockets offer n let the knicks match tht ish.

  • Ronald

    @NBK: Thank you for the eye opener. I always thought Hill tried to play through the pain during the playoffs series against Miami. I remember watching him and he was obviously hobbled. It’s also bullcrap how the Orlando medical staff hid the doctors instructions/orders from Hill.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Redd

    I actually have to disagree @dan. Much as i dislike Lin, Rockets on paper are great. Parsons, Chase, Asik, Martin, and I think Royce White’ll be their best rookie. They need 1 more shooter though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Redd

    Not to say it’s because of Lin, but rather Kevin McHale.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Isn’t Budinger on the Wolves now?

  • eZ

    Just like with Batum, and so many others…Don’t underestimate the role of AGENTS. It comes across as if these players decide all these things for themselves, but they have several people urgently advising them, pressuring them and representing them in the negotiations. These agents are money greedy, for themselves first and don’t really care about the exact team their player will land, as long as they get their cut of a large guaranteed contract!

  • http://www.nba.com/knicks danfields

    @Redd: to me all these guys except martin are just slightly over average role players. and if we look at martins winning resume and his skill set he could considered to be a role player, too, saying that his role means scoring only (i know thats a bit exaggerated, but the last time i saw him i couldnt see much of passing skills or defense). now that scola is gone they look more like the bobcats with one and a half scorers in martin and lin. i could also be wrong about this prediction but i think that this situation / estimation of their skill level is what will most likely happen

  • RunNGun

    Wow… can’t believe some of these comments by delusional/bandwagon Knicks fans. Would you take a pay cut from your current job? 99.9% of the sane people would say no; people want to get paid unless you want to work for free. If someone offered you an opportunity to legitimately earn an extra $15M in a single year, would you not take that opportunity? 99.9% of the sane people would say yes. This isn’t MLB, but as a means of comparison you guys are probably the same people who lauded Alex Rodriguez for signing w/the Yankees for that 10-year/$275M contract yet complain about a 3-year/$30M contract for Jeremy Lin. Sorry, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too and you can’t blame the guy for taking it especially when your family and you will be set for the rest of your life. It’s a business! Aside from the contract, the Knicks would have made up for it in merchandising using Lin’s name alone. IT’S A BUSINESS, FOLKS… learn the game.

  • Jake

    I think they are going to surprise people…

  • clydesays

    I’m not huge fan of Lin, I thought he did well in a half season, but you’ve seen that before in the L. But this is on the Knicks. They claimed they’d match any deal, but didn’t even make an offer themselves. Are you telling me that Lin would have turned down a 4 yr, 20-25 million dollar deal in NY? Instead the Knicks let the market dictate the price & then balked. They had a 600 million dollar increase in revenue this year. You can argue Lin was responsible for most of that. Instead of dictating terms, they let the market take away a young talent who brought them a ton of cash. Dolan’s family might be successful, but his business & basketball sense when it comes to the Knicks is terrible….

  • eric

    Lin’s numbers, although taken from just a 35 game window, are better than both Kidd’s and Felton’s. You would also have to say he has more upside, being that he is younger and can still learn more about the game. To me, the stats are what is most important, and he is better than anything the Knicks have. By getting rid of him, they are getting worse, not better.

    The Knicks also made a ton of money on merchandise sales, particularly Lin merchandise. There is a large Asian-American community in New York, and they fell in love with Lin.One of the issues the Knicks had with the Lin contract is that he is set to earn $15 million in the third year of the contract the Rockets offered him. That is a lot of money, and many said it would end up costing the Knicks $30 million that year if they matched it because of the NBA luxury tax.

    However, if you look at the numbers, the Knicks will already be over the luxury tax, and so that argument really doesn’t have a lot of merit. Besides that the publicity and money Lin brought in would have covered that. Now, they don’t have him there to draw in viewers.

    New York is the biggest media city in the United States. It was a perfect place for Lin to get a ton of publicity, and for the Knicks to make tons of money off of him.

    It is also well known that outside of the United States, China is the biggest country for the NBA. They follow what is going on, and really support the league with how much they watch the games and the amount of merchandise they buy. Having an Asian-American as one of the stars of your team is going to bring in ridiculous amounts of money, and more than pay for his $25.1 million salary.

    Now we are becoming Rockets Fan! Go Lin! Knicks should have never let Lin go!

  • Roi

    The Knicks never REALLY wanted to keep him. If they did, they would’ve offered him a whole lotta money instead of telling him to test free agency. It is what it is. Only time will tell if they made the right decision.