It didn’t take very long for Jeremy Lin to make up his mind. He signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, the team that made the most sense to him.
Marc Stein was the first to break the news, but Lin also confirmed it on his Twitter account. Lin has signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Nets after just one year with the Charlotte Hornets. When the Hornets season ended (knocked out of the playoffs in the first round), Lin said he loves Charlotte and is tired of moving around, but players say emotional things right after the season ends. Give them a few more days, and they become more cerebral, and actually think what’s right for them. Lin can opt out after the second year. There have been mentions that he could have gotten more with a different team, but the situation in Brooklyn was too good to turn down as it turned out. If it works out well, Lin can opt out and look for the max, or something along those lines, in 2018.
And Lin wasn’t going to get the money he deserves, the role he wants and the minutes that come with it by staying in Charlotte. The Nets weren’t the only good option for him, but they were probably the best fit. They needed a starting point guard as they go through a quick rehash with the hope of making the playoffs next season, not just go through a painful, filled with losses rebuild. The head coach is someone who has worked with Lin and wants to see his team play the kind of basketball Lin can thrive in.
Brook Lopez, as of now, is Lin’s central teammate. A good pick and roll player and one of the best post up players in the NBA, Lin and Lopez could do very well together. Lin might not be one of the best shooters in the NBA (but a very solid one, even if last year was filled with inconsistencies), at his best, he makes his living in the paint. Few NBA guards attack the rim like he does, and assuming the Nets give him the freedom to be creative and play his brand of basketball, we’ll finally see Lin confident and aggressive on a nightly basis, without the weird decisions of turning him into a spot up shooter who does most of his work without the ball in his hands.
In a short free agency period with mostly big men switching teams for big money as well, Lin is the first designated-to-be-starter point guard who has moved on from his previous team. Like many others, he’s multiplied his earnings by quite a significant number compared to last season, but for Lin it’s not just a matter of the salary cap going up: He was really playing for chump change last season compared to what he gave the team.
Lin took the calculated risk of putting himself in a comfortable situation for less money, and it paid off, even if it didn’t always seem that way last season. Yes, he joined the Nets due to familiarity with certain personnel as well, but it wouldn’t have happened to him this way, with this kind of contract, if it wasn’t for his ability being appreciated, especially when he got a starting role, and even more so in his performances against some of the best teams in the NBA.
Lin returns to New York, but in different colors, in a different borough. He lit up the city and pretty much the league when he bursted onto the scene more than four years ago. Now, well traveled, experienced and any other cliche about players who have gone there and back again during their career, he’s no longer about making a place for himself in the league. It’s about proving how good he can be with confidence and faith in him for the long run. If it works out, don’t be surprised to see him in the All-Star game, as soon as this season.