Jeremy Lin turned down a seven-figure salary to play, once again, in the NBA’s minor league.
Why? Why else? He wants to be invited back to the show.
Lin, 32, eschewed playing a second season in the Chinese Basketball Association to join the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G-League bubble in Orlando. Four years senior to even his oldest teammate — and a decade senior to some — the former Golden State Warrior and New York phenomenon is out to show that he still has what it takes to play in the Association.
The plan might sound crazy to come, but for Lin, it was the only logical choice.
He broke it down Tuesday in his first press conference since joining the Sea Dubs.
Lin said he talked to the big-league Warriors during this past offseason in hopes of landing a training camp invite, and while that ultimately didn’t come to pass, it did grease the skids on this move to the G-League.
“[I] talked to multiple teams, just trying to get a non-guaranteed camp invite just to show people who I am as a player, and I think there were questions bout my health and other things,” Lin said. “I’ve been healthy for two straight seasons, so I wanted to be able to ride that momentum and show people, but I wasn’t able to get a training camp invite…The G-League bubble was the next step, the next chance to be able to show people.”
Much like the NBA’s ending to last season, the G-League bubble will be a basketball bonanza. Participating teams will play 15 regular-season games in 25 days between Feb. 10 and March 6, plus possible playoff games.
If ever there was an opportunity to for Lin to show NBA teams that he was worth a shot, playing well and making it through that condensed schedule should do it.
The next week will be critical to fulfilling that goal for Lin.
“We had a 12-day quarantine and we went right into training camp, so it’s going take a bit of time, it’s not like I was 22, 23,” Lin said. “I’m glad to be here and to be able to do this. I’ve been trying to spend even a couple of hours every night just doing extra stuff, trying to prepare my body because I know that the training camp time, the window is so short — it’s going to take extra work to keep my whole body as healthy and fresh as possible.”
“For me, I just want to be the best player that I can be right now and to show that. I really just want to enjoy this experience,” Lin said.
Lin is famous for “Linsanity”, a hellacious nine-game stretch with the Knicks in Feb. 2012, when he came out of nowhere to average 25 points and nearly 10 assists a game, making him the top story in all of sports for a two-week stretch.
The Linsanity breakout made Lin, a Palo Alto High alum, a rich man. He signed a four-year, $28.8 million deal with the Houston Rockets the following season, and in 2016, he signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
But that’s when the injuries began. In the 2016-17 season, it was a hamstring issue. Then back tightness. Then an ankle injury. Then in the 2017-2018 season opener, he tore his right patella tendon, which took him out for the season.
“I suffered two straight years of injury in Brooklyn. I came back after that and had a good first half of the season with Atlanta and showed I could play some,” Lin said. “Then in Toronto, I didn’t have a great 12 games and after that, I haven’t been able to get in a look in the NBA since.”
The lack of offers before last season led Lin, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, to play in the CBA, where he was a superstar for the Beijing Ducks.
But Lin believes that he still has the ability to play in the NBA, and the best way to show that, he believes is to return to the league where he played 21 games between 2010 and 2012.
(Though the fame did follow him in this age of video conferencing — Lin answered two questions in his press conference in Mandarin.)
“The biggest thing for me was to just find an opportunity to showcase myself,” Lin said, in English. “That’s how this came about.”
The Sea Dubs are getting something out of the arrangement, too. Lin will be called upon to be a team leader, particularly to two of the three young Golden State Warriors — guards Nico Mannion (19 years old) and Jordan Poole (21) — who will be joining Santa Cruz in Florida.
“I think the main thing that he brings to us besides experience is the ability to get to the basket. He’s still a talented scorer and he’s much improved as a shooter as he’s gotten later into his career — he can score at all three levels,” coach Kris Weems said. “Then, of course, his reads — [his] pick-and-rolls and drive-and-kicks are really going to help us. Not just for himself to make plays, but for the other guys to see how valuable that kind of experience and that kind of skill set is.”
Lin said that, as peculiar as the circumstances might seem to others, he’s savoring the opportunity to be a leader.
“I just try to be as consistent as I can. I’ve always felt from the beginning the there’s a right way to play basketball and a wrong way. So I just want to stay consistent to that — playing the right way — and I can live with the results no matter what they are,” Lin said. “In terms of anybody who I get to play with and team up with, I just want to make it as meaningful and purposeful and as pure of a game as it can be…I just want to try to lead by example and make sure we’re playing great basketball.”
Contributed by local news sources