SAN ANTONIO — One day after returning to practice, Nets starting point guard Jeremy Lin on Saturday night sat out his 17th straight game since suffering a right hamstring strain. Some might view the team’s next two games against the Rockets and Lakers — two of his former teams — as targets for a return, but Lin laughed off the suggestion.
“No, my health is most important,” Lin said at the morning shootaround before the Nets faced the Spurs at AT&T Center. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, I’m going to make sure I make a good decision.”
Although Lin underwent intense individual workouts before being cleared to practice and looks supremely fit, that doesn’t mean he will step back into his full-time starting role at the outset.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said he hasn’t yet formulated a plan for Lin’s playing time, but he added, “I’m going to completely follow the advice of the performance team and Jeremy and figure that out. I know Jeremy wants to play 40 minutes the first game. He’s already told me, but I don’t think that’s happening. We’ll do the most intelligent thing in determining what the best thing is to come back from an injury like that.”
It sounds as if Lin is completely on board with that approach. “I’d be expecting a minute restriction,” he said. “We just wanted to make sure everything is strengthened, not just back to where it was but above and beyond so that I don’t ever have to deal with it again.”
Clearly, the priority for Lin and the organization has been to rehabilitate the injured hamstring to the point that it doesn’t become a recurring problem. The primary focus was to strengthen the hamstring, but Lin worked his core and hip muscles as well.
The intensity of some of his individual workouts was obvious, but Lin said that doesn’t equate to playing 30 minutes per game right away.
“You can’t really recreate the game,” he said. “You can play five-on-five in practice, but that’s still not the game. It will take a little bit of adjusting to it. I’ve never been out this long aside from my surgery [for a meniscus tear with the Knicks in April 2012], but that was going into the end of that season, so I never played again.”
The Nets canceled Sunday’s practice, which means Lin isn’t likely to play Monday night in Houston. The next potential practice is Tuesday before the Nets face the Lakers at home Wednesday. Lin said he’s uncertain how many practices he will need before playing.