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Kenny Atkinson praises Raptors' reported pairing with former Nets guard Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin passes the ball around Knicks guard

Jeremy Lin passes the ball around Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay (1) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in New York.  Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

TORONTO — Former Net Jeremy Lin made news here Monday when reports surfaced that he had reached a buyout agreement with the Hawks and is expected to sign with the Raptors after clearing waivers.

The news first was reported by ESPN. Toronto coach Nick Nurse was not permitted to comment on Lin because the Raptors won’t have his rights before Wednesday.

Lin suffered a torn patella tendon in the Nets’ season opener more than a year ago but played 51 games for the Hawks this season, averaging 10.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds. He will be valuable backing up starting point guard Kyle Lowry at a time when backup Fred Van Vleet is expected to be out three weeks with a thumb injury.

Toronto reporters asked Nets coach Kenny Atkinson about Lin, who was a Knicks assistant coach when “Linsanity” erupted late in the 2011-12 season — including a Valentine’s Day game at Toronto when Lin scored 27 points and hit a buzzer-beater to defeat the Raptors.

“Heck of an addition for the Raptors,” Atkinson said. “What I always said about Jeremy is he’s a heck of a competitor, a much better defender than people think. He fits the style of play I think Nick wants to play. He’s meticulous in his preparation and obviously very smart and versatile.”

Lin was disappointed when the Nets traded him to the Hawks, but he remains close with Atkinson, who was happy to see Lin get a chance with one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“Good for him,” Atkinson said. “Obviously, it’s not great for the Nets, but it’s good for Jeremy and good for the NBA, good for Toronto. I’ll never forget that Knicks game when he hit that buzzer-beater. Rarely do you see an NBA arena go crazy like that. It was amazing. He has some history here, and I think the fans will enjoy watching him play.’’ 

Dinwiddie: Surgery a success

In speaking with reporters about the Jan. 28 surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb,  point guard Spencer Dinwiddie was upbeat and said he has a target date in mind for his return, although he’s not allowed to discuss it per team policy.

The recovery period generally is considered to be three to six weeks by outside medical experts, and Dinwiddie acknowledged that the surgery was timed to take advantage of the upcoming All-Star break, as the Nets will go eight days between games while he heals. The only drawback is that he can’t defend the Skills Challenge title he won last year during All-Star Weekend.

“In this situation, that was part of the thinking because using the All-Star break, obviously we get an extra week of healing, an extra week of not missing games,” Dinwiddie said.

He acknowledged that he played with the injury for at least two months and aggravated it on several occasions, but the good news is that the injury didn’t require a full reconstruction.

“A reconstruction would have been using my wrist as a graft, but I was able to have them repair it with the native tissue,” Dinwiddie said. “That’s one of the things we obviously wanted to avoid for sure. By all accounts, successful surgery.”  



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