Linsanity II would be pretty cool, right?
The New York Knicks are on the verge of hiring Jeff Hornacek to be their new coach and ditching the triangle offense. They are also on the market for a new starting point guard, as the 34-year-old Jose Calderon is past his prime and rookie Jerian Grant isn’t even approaching his. It just so happens that a familiar face is likely hitting free agency in July. You might have heard of him. His name is Jeremy Lin.
The Charlotte Hornets guard would make a ton of sense if Hornacek wanted to run a fast-paced, pick-and-roll heavy system. CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported some speculation on a reunion:
With the triangle out, the Knicks will need a traditional point guard. One rival executive suggested Thursday that the Hornacek hiring could pave the way for Linsanity Part II; Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin has a player option this summer in a massive free-agent market and is coming off his best season since leaving New York as a restricted free agent in 2012.
At the end of the season, Lin said that he “absolutely” wants to return to Charlotte, and he’d even consider taking less money to do so, via the Charlotte Observer‘s Rod Boone. He told ESPN’s Justin Verrier that his experience with the Hornets was “night and day” compared to other organizations, and the camaraderie reminded him of his high school team. Lin’s No. 1 option, then, is clear: opting out of the $2 million he’s owed next season, then re-signing in Charlotte on a long-term contract.
For a bunch of financial reasons, though, mutual interest between Lin and the Hornets might not be enough to get a deal done. Charlotte does not have his Bird rights, meaning it would have to use cap space to re-sign him. The Hornets also have four other key free agents: forwards Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, center Al Jefferson and swingman Courtney Lee. Charlotte general manager Rich Cho said a couple of weeks ago that Batum was the team’s No. 1 priority, and it will be “tricky” to bring everyone back, via the Charlotte Observer.
None of this means Lin is definitely leaving. It does mean, though, that there will be an opportunity for other teams to nab him. If he can’t stay with the Hornets, why wouldn’t he consider returning to the city that fell in love with him four years ago?
OK, there are a couple reasons this might not be the perfect idea: The chatter about Carmelo Anthony resenting Lin’s ascension never really went away, and Lin might just not want all of the attention that would come with this. In Charlotte, he had less pressure on him than at any other time since Linsanity, and he thrived.
Basketball-wise, though, this does make sense. The Knicks need someone like him, and Hornacek has done well with attacking point guards before, empowering Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to push the pace and make plays with the Phoenix Suns. At the very least, this is fun to think about.
Jeremy Lin likes Madison Square Garden.