Mike Woodson: Knicks will 'absolutely' match offer for Jeremy Lin
LAS VEGAS -- Jeremy Lin will be back with the Knicks and will go into training camp as their starting point guard.
Mike Woodson said Wednesday that the Knicks "absolutely" would match the four-year, $28.8-million offer sheet Lin will get from the Houston Rockets. Woodson also said Jason Kidd was brought in to not only help the Knicks win, but to mentor Lin and as of now will serve as his backup.
"Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt," Woodson said. "Unfortunately he went down with the [knee] injury. He's not going to be punished for that. He's got a lot of work to do this summer in terms of the development program we put in place.
"When he comes back to veteran's camp he'll have the first nod. He'll be our starter and Jason will back him up in terms of helping us develop this young man into a great point guard."
The NBA moratorium on transactions was lifted Wednesday and the Knicks announced three moves: the re-signing of J.R. Smith, the acquisition of Marcus Camby in a sign-and-trade from Houston and the signing of James White.
Kidd and Steve Novak will be signed Thursday. It doesn't sound like the Knicks will wait too long after Lin gets his offer sheet to match the contract, which is guaranteed for $19.5 million the first three years with the fourth year a team option. Woodson said the Knicks didn't blink when they learned about the terms.
"Never once," Woodson said. "Until that deal is done I'm not really allowed to talk about it. But Jeremy Lin has always been a big part of what we're trying to do as we move forward with our franchise."
The Knicks also will sign 35-year-old Argentine point guard Pablo Prigioni to a one-year deal, his American-based agent George Bass said. Prigioni, who has been playing in the Spanish League since 1999, will play for Argentina in the London Olympics.
Prigioni will add depth and be another player who can teach Lin the ins and outs of running a team. Despite Lin's impressive run last year -- he averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists in 25 starts -- he is still mostly unproven. Lin, 24, never started a game before last season. He also has yet to play in the postseason as rehab from knee surgery kept him out of the Knicks' first-round loss to Miami.
From the start of free agency, the Knicks were looking for an experienced point guard to help out Lin. They went hard after Steve Nash, but lost him to the Lakers. Kidd, 39, isn't a bad consolation prize for the Knicks, who are trying to win now and develop Lin into a quality starting point guard.
"I thought he would be a perfect fit for Jeremy Lin in terms of being able to tutor him as he grows as point guard for our franchise," Woodson said. "Jason can still play and run a ballclub, so that's important as we move forward.
"The guy's a winner. He knows how to win and he gets the most out of guys around him. I think that's what's going to be important for all the guys, the young guys, like Iman [Shumpert] and the young Jeremy Lin in terms of making guys around them better and winning at a high level."
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