Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks speaks to...

Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks speaks to the media announcing his season ending injury before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. (March 31, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Lin-sanity is over for real this time.

Jeremy Lin has a small lateral meniscus tear in his left knee. He has elected to have surgery and is expected to miss six weeks, the team said. Given that the playoffs start in four weeks, the Knicks will have to secure a berth and win at least one round for Lin to have a chance to play again this spring.

"This happening now hurts," Lin said. "All the players, we really put our heart and soul into the team and into the season, and to not be there at the end when it really matters most is hard."

Lin -- the unheralded point guard who saved the Knicks' season and became an international phenomenon -- left the March 24 win over Detroit with what was called left knee soreness. He had an MRI on Monday that revealed a small chronic tear. He said he knew he was going to need surgery at some point but wanted to wait five to seven days to see how it felt and responded to treatment.

But Lin said it worsened since March 24. He tested the knee on the court Saturday morning, tried to do normal basketball movements and couldn't. That's when he decided to have arthroscopic surgery.

"I can't really do much, can't really cut or jump, so it's pretty clear that I won't be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now," Lin said. "It's disappointing for me.

"But I tend to heal fast, so hopefully I can come back as soon as possible and still contribute this season -- hopefully."

Lin said he sought three or four opinions and they all said the same thing. He will have the surgery early this week in New York.

"We got to go on," interim coach Mike Woodson said.

Before the Knicks played Friday in Atlanta, Woodson subtly revealed that Lin's injury was more serious than originally thought. While talking about Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire, Woodson said he didn't know "if" either would return this season. Lin had been listed as either questionable or day-to-day.

"He's elected to have the surgery and we got to respect that," Woodson said. "Only he knows the pain he's feeling. There's a problem and it's got to be fixed.

"Only he knows his body. I know athletes that have torn theirs and played with it. I don't know how severe it is. The doctors looked at it. Obviously, it's severe enough that they're suggesting or he's suggesting they go in and have it fixed so he's ready to go in six weeks."

With Lin out, Baron Davis will remain the Knicks' starting point guard, but he's hobbled by a sore right hamstring and calf and can't play 30 minutes a night. Woodson said Toney Douglas, who began the season as the starter, will return to the rotation. He also said he will use Iman Shumpert and Mike Bibby at point guard.

"We just have to make do until he's able to get back in uniform," Woodson said. "But it is a big blow. He was starting to come on as a player. It's not a career-ending injury. Plenty of people play with meniscus problems. You have to eventually have surgery when it happens.

"He's going to bounce back. We will anxiously wait for him to get back."

The Knicks stumbled early in the season and were 8-15 when former coach Mike D'Antoni turned to Lin out of desperation Feb. 4 against the Nets. The undrafted point guard from Harvard, who was cut by the Warriors and Rockets this season, came off the bench to record 25 points and seven assists and led the Knicks to the first of seven consecutive wins.

The game against the Nets was the start of Lin-sanity, and he became the starting point guard Feb. 6. In the first nine games in which he was a member of the rotation, he averaged 25.0 points and 9.2 assists and hit 51 percent of his shots from the field, scoring 38 points against the Lakers and 28 against the defending champion Mavericks.

In 26 games in the rotation, Lin averaged 18.4 points and 7.6 assists as the Knicks went 16-10.

This is not how Lin wanted this dream season to end. "It [stinks] not being able to be out there with the team," he said. "Hopefully I can come back as soon as I can and help everybody."

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