The Knicks’ Linsanity phenomenon arrived unexpectedly and ended quickly. Jeremy Lin said he wished it could’ve lasted longer.
It may not have appeared that way, though, as Lin departed as a restricted free agent after playing just 35 games for the Knicks. He signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal — loaded with a third-year poison pill, a $14.9 million salary that would have bloated the Knicks' luxury tax. But Lin, in an interview with Mike Breen aired Friday afternoon on MSG Network as part of their “Linsanity Week,” insisted he wanted to stay and was hoping to even take a lower offer from the Rockets that the Knicks would match.
Once the Rockets switched the contract, aware that the Knicks were expressing a willingness to match the first deal — four years and $28 million, which included a team option on that final season — the Knicks bitterly backed away.
“I’m not sure if I said this publicly, but I don’t have any regrets,” Lin said. “Because really, to me, I didn’t really have a decision, like I only have one contract. I was only offered one contract. We couldn’t get anything from any other team. And so, I had to go find a contract from somebody. And I remember when Houston gave the offer, I promise you, I had just finished a workout and got into my car and got the phone call from my agent and I said to him, ‘Can you tell Houston to lower the offer? This is too much. Can you tell someone to lower the offer?’, because I wanted to go back to New York and I wanted New York to match. The time there, with the fans, everything. It was so special. I was like, I need to go back to New York. That’s where my heart is.
“So, I call my agent and said, ‘Hey, find a way to get out of Houston. Give me a less good of a contract so that New York will match it’ and he said, ‘We can’t. This is Houston’s final offer and we’ve been talking to them for a week, two weeks, three weeks, this is it. We’re at the end and this is the only offer that you got, you have to sign it.’
“So I remember signing it, and again, this is no disrespect to Houston,” he added. “At that time, I didn’t know anything about the organization or the city. I just knew New York. So, I actually was trying really hard. I was like, 'Man, we have to find a way to make this contract, like bring down the money, bring down the years, whatever we need to do, make it easier. So that it’s not a poison pill. And that’s honestly where my heart was at the time and obviously it didn’t happen, but in my mind, I was like, ‘All right, well, I still hope that New York matches and there’s still a chance.’ But it was a long 72 hours.”
Lin is currently in China, where he plays for the Beijing Duck. He still hopes to return to the NBA after winning a ring as a reserve with the Raptors last season.