The New York Knicks have confirmed their determination to keep point guard Jeremy Lin — the first US-born NBA player of Taiwanese descent — in the coming season, according to several reports.
Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said on a conference call on Friday last week to discuss coach Mike Woodson’s contract extension that he did not foresee any reason why Lin would not be on the team next season.
Because the 23-year-old Harvard graduate is a restricted free agent, the Knicks have the right to match any offer Lin gets from another team.
Teams offering him a one-year deal cannot sign him to a contract above US$5 million because of his short time in the NBA, and the Knicks have a mid-level extension of US$5 million that could be used on Lin.
However, the Knicks might have trouble matching another team’s offer if it involved a multi-year deal that was backloaded and averaged US$6 million or more.
“We can keep him if we want him, and we do want to keep him, and I believe that Jeremy had a great experience here. I believe he wants to come back,” Grunwald was quoted as saying in an ESPN report.
Lin jumped from obscurity to global stardom in February when he led the struggling team to a seven-game winning streak, but he missed the last 22 games of the season, including five in the first round of the playoffs, after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee.
ESPN quoted Woodson, who has signed a multi-year deal to coach the Knicks after serving as interim coach since March, as saying that Lin is now feeling “great” after having undergone surgery to repair the tear on April 2.
“He’s gone through his rehab process, so he’s back running and moving, like we expected him to be,” Woodson said. “Our doctors did a tremendous job on the surgery and our therapy people putting things back in place. So he will be ready to go, at full go.”
The report also said Woodson would travel to Las Vegas in early July to watch Lin scrimmage with the US Select Team, the team that is helping to prepare the US team for the London Olympics. Lin is one of 13 players on the team.
Lin tweeted on Friday last week that he has headed back to California for the off-season and that he wanted to say “thanks New York for making it an unbelievable five months.”
Recent media reports said some other NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets, are interested in recruiting Lin.
Meanwhile, Michael Dunlap, a columnist with US sports Web site Bleacher Report, recently wrote that Lin is one of 15 young role players from this year’s 16 playoff teams who will be stars in five years.
“Lin is a great story and is going to get a lot of money to play point guard for someone next year,” Dunlap wrote in a post.
While praising Lin as having “showed considerable skill getting to the basket and played crunch time like a star,” Dunlap acknowledged that Lin is not without flaws, as he “turned the ball over way too much.”