Jeremy Lin, the American NBA star of Taiwanese descent whose rise to stardom sparked global interest, is not assured of returning to the New York Knicks next season, his agent told the New York Post.
The newspaper reported on Monday that Roger Montgomery does not expect talks over a new deal for Lin to be simple, even though interim Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Lin, who becomes a free agent on July 1, would “absolutely” return.
“We’re not anticipating that’s going to happen,” Montgomery said. “We don’t have assurances of anything. I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything. We’re waiting to see what happens.”
Under league rules, the Knicks can match any offer made to Lin, who made only US$762,000 last season, but saw his replica jersey become the NBA’s No. 2 seller after he leaped from bench-warming obscurity to hero in February.
Lin, a 24-year-old whose parents are from Taiwan, became a global sensation as the first American of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA after he was forced into starting when two Knicks starters were injured.
Days away from being dropped by his third NBA team, the Harvard graduate made the most of his chance. With drives to the basket, pinpoint passes and top shooting efforts, Lin sparked a seven-game win streak for the Knicks.
The phenomenon known as “Linsanity” followed as he remained a key playmaker for the Knicks after the stars returned, although his season ended early after a torn meniscus in his left knee required surgery on April 2.
Lin, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists for the season, is being sought as a free agent by the Toronto Raptors, the Post reported, citing an unnamed source.
An ongoing arbitration dispute between the NBA and its players union is set to decide if the Knicks can spend over the salary cap to resign players, which would allow the Knicks to keep Lin and seek a more experienced point guard.
Should the union lose, the Knicks would need that money to keep Lin and rivals could backload contract offers to push the Knicks beyond the salary cap later in Lin’s contract.
Lin’s profitability in the NBA’s growing Asian market is critical in the equation, but his performance on the court will likely play the most vital role in judging his value for the Knicks and their rivals.
Meanwhile, Lin was among 13 young players officially named on Monday to the US Select team.
NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving of Cleveland was also among those selected for the squad that is to serve as training opponents for the US Olympic team of NBA stars competing in the London Olympics.
The Selects are to play training games against the US squad at the Olympic training camp on July 6 to July 12 in Las Vegas, but in addition to producing top efforts from this year’s collection of NBA Olympians, Lin and his teammates are taking their first steps toward the 2014 US world title defense and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“The Select team has an excellent collection of talent,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “The group has outstanding speed and versatility, some excellent shooters and some very good size. It will be great to have them involved in USA Basketball and in the national team pipeline for our next quadrennium.”
Joining Lin and Irving on the squad are Orlando’s Ryan Anderson, San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair and Kawhi Leonard, Washington’s John Wall, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Indiana’s Paul George, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Utah’s Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, and Golden State’s Klay Thompson.