Jeremy Lin could have easily basked in what amounted to a hero’s welcome when he was re-introduced by the Houston Rockets on Thursday afternoon. Instead, he showed his self-awareness, while maybe tempering the inevitable ‘Linsanity’ expectations.
“I still have a lot to prove and a lot to do to become established,” Lin said to a large media contingent at the Toyota Center. “I’m the first one to admit it. The only thing I can really promise is I’m going to give it my best effort. That’s my goal and I wanna get better as a player.”
Rockets owner Leslie McDonald and General Manager Daryl Morey have spent days, weeks and even months harping on the fact they cut Lin back in December as part of a numbers game with fellow-point guards Kyle Lowry & Goran Dragic on the roster. The rest is well-documented history as Lin became a worldwide phenomenon and saved the Knicks’ season in February and December, while becoming the team’s most popular player in years and a cash register that never stopped ringing with endless merchandise and marketing possibilities.
Morey regretted the move, but has now rectified it in his mind. He has his point guard of the present and the future, and will now look to build around Lin, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games before going down for the season with a slightly-torn left meniscus on March 24.
“We’re not satisfied where we’ve been recently,” Morey said. “All we can do is work hard everyday on becoming better players. We did our diligence on him with multiple doctors. They’re comfortable his health is very good going forward.”
In the 23 minutes Lin sat on stage with McDonald and Morey on Wednesday, he was peppered with a variety of questions from the relationship with his parents, to the criticism thrown his way and what he plans to do between now and training camp. There were questions about expectations after he exploded onto the scene as a virtual nobody last winter and what he hopes this team can accomplish this season.
As he did throughout his time at Madison Square Garden, Lin handled the media crush on Wednesday with eloquence and politeness. Now, after several days of uncertainty, followed by a couple of days of backlash in the wake of the Knicks not matching Houston’s three-year, back-loaded $25.1 million offer sheet, maybe now the real work can begin for Lin as he gets used to his new surroundings.
“I’m gonna continue to learn,” Lin said. “I have so much room for improvement, but I’m going to try and share the little bit I’ve learned. I just want our team to win and make the playoffs. We just really wanna make sure we’re doing everything to win.”