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Jeremy Lin: “Honestly, I preferred New York”

Jul 18, 2012, 1:27 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks Getty Images

Just a week ago, it seemed an impossible idea that Jeremy Lin would be anything but a Knick. They were going to match any offer “up to a billion dollars.”

Actually, the number was more like $25.1 million. The Knicks let Lin walk.

The Rockets and Lin had gone outside tradition but did nothing illegal and upped his offer. The Knicks decided to roll the dice on Raymond Felton, a player who was an out-of-shape mess for the Blazers last season. Fans in New York are less than thrilled.

Some fans blamed Lin for leaving, but this was on the Knicks. They could have kept him, they chose not to make him an offer or match the deal. Lin opened up to Sports Illustrated about what happened, and said he would have preferred to stay a Knick.

“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…

“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.”

In the interview Lin talks about how the Knicks said they wanted him back, they told him he would be a starter, but were honest that they would talk to other point guards as well. And he reminds everyone it was the Knicks that steered him to go out on the open market and see what contract he could find. The Knicks never offered him a deal, Lin signed the offer sheet from the Rockets in part because it was the only formal offer ever given him.

He also talks about wanting to play in the playoffs but his knee just not letting him.

“People think it was easy for me to sit there and watch us lose, like I had nothing to do with the season,” Lin says. “I was dying to play. I didn’t miss a game due to injury in seven years until this past season, and people are acting like I wouldn’t want to play in the playoffs? Of the NBA? In my first season?”

Lin in Houston is not going to be quite the same, because in part the talent around him is different (they have shooters but no pick-and-roll big to match Tyson Chandler). And in part because it’s not New York and the frenzy around hoops that team and city creates.

  1. dysraw1 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    like i said in earlier post ive got nothing but love for the kid and truly wish him well

    • angryyankee - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      Can anyone answer when the luxury tax is required to be paid during any given season? If Lin flopped in his first two years, wouldn’t his large, expiring contract have been an asset to trade in year 3?

      • Kurt Helin - Jul 20, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        Luxury tax is calculated at the end of the season and paid then.

  2. pellypell - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Anyone in their right mind wants to go where they are wanted. He made the right choice for himself.

    • gmen4trophies - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:57 PM

      I’ve been a Knicks fan since birth many decades ago and have soured on the game cause my team stinks, and I’m a Melo fan and not caught up in all that, but this owner has so fouled up this team I’m happy for the kid to escape this mess; one thing I can tell ‘Melo is to stick around a couple of years to see what “ridiculous” means. The problem isn’t Lin, or any of our other collection of pg’s, it’s that the owner elbowed a real GM out of the way as he was building a team to build it on his own and never factored in how a pg would go with the rest of the cast-much less how the cast might go together. This has all the makings of a spectacular bust as has been Knicks basketball since this reign of doom/lan began.

  3. jetstizzi85 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Wanted to stay in New York yet instead of telling them about the 2nd offer from Houston, you just went and signed it.

    I understand you didnt have to tell them but if you wanted to return so badly, you could have told them.

    • knightrider1755 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      On the other hand, the Knicks could also have made him an offer.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        On the other hand, the CBA prevented them from doing so.

      • slopmcflop - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        Or matched.

      • jetstizzi85 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM

        Isnt that the point of a restricted FA? To see what his value is to another team and let the market show it…..Fact is, Lin didnt do very well running Woodson’s system and that hurt his value to the Knicks

    • beagle11 - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Why is everyone giving Mr. Wright 212 thumbs down. He is absolutely right. Do your homework you Charlatans!

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    This kid is such a friggin liar.

    • knightrider1755 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      He’s right the Knicks were telling him he was going to be a starter but at the same time they were viciously going after Steve Nash. Lin saw the handwriting on the wall. If the Knicks had gotten Nash, Lin would’ve been coming off the bench.

      • duane888 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        So what, Lin’s weaknesses were exploited by Miami big time. It would have best for him to sit & learn from Nash (one of the best) before he retires. It would have been a win-win situation for Lin and the Knicks.

      • duane888 - Jul 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        Oops, meant Kidd not Nash.

      • knightrider1755 - Jul 18, 2012 at 7:24 PM

        duane888. The weaknesses of the entire Knicks team was exploited by the Heat both during the regular season and in the playoffs. Why single out Lin? From what I observed, there was enough blame to go around on that team as a whole.

  5. angelcastro1120 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Hello Mr. Write the Troll. Are you Lin’s priest? Or maybe his Dad? Or how about his therapist? Did you administer a polygraph to him? Hey, I admit…I responded to your trolling post. Only because it was so asinine it needed a response.

  6. thevza - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Translation: I was the King of NY, but for $25 mil I’ll be the Duke of Houston.

    • knightrider1755 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      I’ll be glad when Lin comes to the Garden and torches the Knicks for 52 points.

      • duane888 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        Guarantee you the Knicks will be playing with extra motivation to not let that happen. Or else it would egg on their faces.

  7. gmsalpha - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    He did the smart thing by taking the money. He’s not going to be an All-Star in my opinion, and Yao Ming already got the ball rolling in Houston when it comes to Asian players. Besides, who’s to say he won’t have another injury or he simply will be a very mediocre player? It was probably to his benefit that he got hurt because he went out on top, and didn’t really have time to come back down to earth and thus, he was able to cash in.

    The only question now is whether the Lin deal, in conjunction with the Omer Asik deal are going to push Houston out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. I wonder if they regret offering those two guys the deals they did?

    • jedifriedchicken - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      I’d love to see Lin and Bynum playing the pick and roll together next season in Houston…

  8. philtration - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    “Gee… it sure will be hard for me to leave the fans that I played for here in New York for a few weeks”

  9. jimeejohnson - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    He’ll be all set if he likes bbq. He’ll be closer to California, and far away from the sphincter known as New Yawk City. It won’t be freezing cold in winter, and he’ll keep a lot more of his money living in Texas. The biggest losers are the Golden State Warriors: Linn’s a SF Bay Area native, and there is a huge Asian community there.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Ahhhhh more outta town inferiority complex from the yokels…

    • duane888 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      No, he’ll just look forward to flooding and hurricanes living in Houston.

    • itsthemelman82 - Jul 18, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      Outside of NYC (and Chicago, I do love the Chi as well) America is like a different country but, have a great time with all that built up jealousy! Not a Knicks fan but it was fun watching Linsanity at its peak. Wish him the best

    • gmsalpha - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      Since when is Houston a BBQ hotbed? And Houston closer to California? Do you think that factored in at all? Really? You know they have airplanes in this day and age, right? Most players don’t really care about playing near their hometowns, though there are exceptions like Carmelo and Rose. I have no skills, but if I were a pro athlete, location would play a HUGE factor in my decision on where to play. No offense to the Thunder, but Oklahoma and I have nothing in common. Give me Portland, San Fran, or Los Angeles any day of the week.

      Oh, and you spelled Lin wrong.

  10. phillyeagles91 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    I predict no Linsanity will ever happen in Houston. Sorry Rockets fans

  11. Ringside Rants - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    I’d love it if I were a Rockets fan and the guy my team just gave $25 million to openly said he didn’t really want to come to Houston. And if he really preferred New York, he didn’t HAVE to sign the offer sheet from the Rockets, he could have taken that amount back to the Knicks and said, “This is what I’m worth.” Because the Knicks didn’t want to guarantee $25 million dollars to a guy that started 26 games and electrified but didn’t mesh well with Carmelo Anthony and… oh yeah… is coming off knee surgery, they’re the bad guys.

  12. chiadam - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    When a player sits out a playoff game because he’s “only” 85%, that means he does not want to play in the playoffs. He’s Roger Dorn. Lin was looking out for himself and only himself.

    • duane888 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      Got that right. Look what Miami did to him in the regular season. Now imagine if he played in the playoffs and got totally humiliated, his stock would not be what it is right now. So yeah, he made a smart business move by not playin so he could cash in right now.

  13. 20dollardinners - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Great BUSINESS decision for the Rockets. I do business in China and Taiwan a lot and Lin posters, magazine covers, and jerseys where everywhere. Asian country love basketball, especially China.

    • beagle11 - Jul 18, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      I’ve traveled in foreign country’s too. Of the many basketball jerseys I see kids wearing, and I do see a lot. Maybe 5% of those are actually legally licensed apparel. China is the friggen black market capital of the world! I question how much $ any league makes off foreign jersey sales.

  14. burm61 - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Lin will be this years Lamar Odom.

  15. beagle11 - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    THE CBA PREVENTED THE KNICKS FROM OFFERING HIM ANYTHING MORE THAN A 7.5% ANNUAL RAISE!!!! HE HAD TO SIGN AN OFFER SHEET SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR THE KNICKS TO MATCH!! HELLO!!(Herm Edwards voice)

  16. moturnovers24 - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Lin tried to play hardball if u really wanted to b a knick than y did u go there once get a offer than come back to ny find out we would match it than Lin got greedy went back to Houston let them raise the deal more than signed the deal for more and than expected us to match even a more inflated deal. If u really want to b a knick your insanity should have told Houston no and worked a deal with Dolan cause everyone says we over pay everyone so why would u think it would have been any different. Lin got to greedy or his agent did so now your a rocket put your cash in pocket and shut the he double hockey sticks up and in joy Houston u greedy fool

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