Dec 17, 2012, 11:54 AM EDT
Jeremy Lin is back in the place it all came together for him.
But it’s not the same.
Monday night Jeremy Lin brings his new team the Houston Rockets into Madison Square Garden to take on the team where for a stretch he played stunningly good, exciting basketball that energized a sullen fan base. It was enough to win the hearts of many Knicks fans, it was enough to earn a three-year, $25 million contract offer from Houston that Knicks management did not want to match. Which pissed off a lot of Knicks fans.
But it was best for Lin the basketball player. We’ll get to that.
While fans and media want to reminisce about the weeks of “Linsanity” in New York and how that led to a contract with him leaving town, Lin and the Knicks players didn’t really want to go there. Lin told the Houston Chronicle he wanted some closure.
“If I were to be realistic, there will probably be a little bit of nostalgia or reminiscing and thankful for those times because those were great times,” Lin said. “At the same time, it’s the next chapter. I’m definitely ready to get it over with. I think in some sense there will be some closure. This will be the first return back to MSG, and there will never be another first return. We’re going to go out and play and have some fun.”
This may be the closure Lin wants, because Linsanity seems to be dying. If you want some evidence, notice that fans around the world did not have Lin voted among the starters to the NBA All-Star Game in the first ballot returns. He was third in guards in the West, behind Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, but still ahead of guys he shouldn’t be like teammate James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and O.J. Mayo.
In part the fascination with Lin is dying because the Knicks have been good this season, the top team in the East at 18-5. Plus new Knicks point guard Raymond Felton is playing pretty well. If the Knicks and Felton were struggling fans would be revisiting the Lin decision a lot more.
The other part is that Lin himself is struggling — he is scoring 10.8 points per game (down from 14.6 with the Knicks last season), he is shooting 39.5 percent this season (down from 44.6 percent), he is assisting on a lower percentage of his teammates baskets, his PER has dropped from a borderline All-Star level of 19.9 down to a below average 13.1.
Lin admitted he is struggling talking to the New York Post, following a 3-for-9 shooting performance in Toronto Sunday where Lin had seven points, two assists and three turnovers.
“Terrible. I think I’m not doing close to what I’m capable of doing and it’s a matter of figuring out how to get myself to play more like myself within the system with the change of scenery. I’ll be my harshest critic but I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m doing terrible.’’
His move out of New York was still the best thing for him.
While a perfect storm of events came together for Lin last season to spark Linsanity, he is still a guy that came into the season undrafted and having started 25 games in the NBA. He had a steep learning curve ahead of him — he has struggles to go left, he doesn’t have a great three point shot yet (31.5 percent this season), he is shooting just 30.4 percent from 10 feet out to the arc this season (last season 46.4 percent) making it easier to guard him, and he has to learn to work off the ball more with James Harden on his team.
It’s the kind of learning curve a lot of good 23 year olds with potential struggle with in the NBA.
But if Lin had to do this in New York right now his struggles would be all over the back page of the New York Post, fighting for headlines of futility with the Jets. It would be much harder for him to develop under that microscope, with all that that attention and demands on his time.
In Houston, he can pretty much walk up to the arena unbothered. He’s a star and one of the faces of the franchise, but the intensity of attention is different. As is the pressure to win now — the Rockets are rebuilding, there is no rebuilding in New York. (Well, there had to be after Isiah Thomas, but that’s another story.)
He needs a season to play and struggle and figure it out. And he will. He may never again play for an extended period like those weeks of Linsanity, but he can be a good NBA point guard. It just takes time, and in Houston he will get it in a way he couldn’t in New York.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:29 PM EDT
Porter drops 25 points at Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Martin discusses Melo’s future and his own at Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jul 12, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Wizards can’t convince Ariza to return, and Houston gets a nice talent upgrade at a reasonable price.
Pau Gasol tweets he has chosen to play for Bulls. Only question is will it be sign-and-trade or not.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:41 PM EDT
The Bulls may have to amnesty Carlos Boozer.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
This is about cashing in on the new TV deal in 2016.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Wade releases a statement supporting LeBron’s decision to leave the Heat for the Cavaliers.
Jul 12, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Irving also eligible for full 30 percent on Derrick Rose rule
Jul 12, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
Is the best option to do nothing and be patient?
Jul 12, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
He shot 45.1 percent from three last season.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT
His other suitors have moved on.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
A lineup of Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh would be entertaining.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:13 AM EDT
This played out as expected.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
The NBA has simplified signing first-round picks. This case fell through the cracks.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Like with fans, there was some surprise and a lot of nods from NBA players on twitter.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
LeBron returns to Cleveland a fully realized player.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Two teams near the top of their conference could get a lot better if they land him.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT
Carter will likely replace Mike Miller, who might be Cleveland-bound to play with LeBron James
Jul 11, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT
Bucks-Cavaliers was by far the main event of the first day of Summer League action in Las Vegas.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT
Bazemore join’s Atlanta’s crowded wing rotation
Jul 11, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
If you’re betting on the Cavaliers to win the title next season
- Report: Trevor Ariza to sign 4-year, $32 million deal with Rockets 30
- Pau Gasol tweets he has chosen to play for Bulls. Only question is will it be sign-and-trade or not. 37
- LeBron James’ contract two years, $42 million with Cavaliers. That doesn’t mean he’s leaving. 34
- LeBron returns to Cleveland a more efficient, mature player that can take team further 35
- Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker shine in head-to-head Summer League matchup 19
- Posnanski: LeBron James proves he’s a true Clevelander 58
- Report: Isaiah Thomas headed to Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade 40
- Report: Chris Bosh re-signing with Heat over joining Rockets 89