Shane Larkin was hoping for a fresh start and a chance to show what he can do in New York. But the speedy point guard and the Knicks’ triangle offense fit about as well as Phil Jackson trying to cram himself into a smart car.
So when Larkin became a free agent at midnight on July 1, the Nets came calling with a pitch the point guard was thrilled to hear.
“We just said we want to get back to how you played in Miami,” Nets general manager Billy King said recently about the former Hurricane. “Allowing you to be a leader on the floor, run the pick-and-roll, get up and down the court. That was the pitch to him.”
Brooklyn is hoping that the 5-foot-11 Larkin can show why he was the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Miami.
Larkin’s rookie season got off to a bad start when he broke his ankle during a summer league practice. He would end up playing in just 48 games, averaging 10.2 minutes and 2.8 points.
Dallas sent Larkin to the Knicks in a package deal centered around Tyson Chandler last summer. On a woeful, stripped down team that lost 65 games, Larkin averaged 6.2 points in 24.5 minutes while starting 22 games. In April, he averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 31.8 minutes a game.
The Nets saw enough to believe that he can still realize his first-round potential in the right system.
“I talked to Billy and Lionel (Hollins) as soon as free agency started, and they told me they wanted me to come in and just play my game,” Larkin said at a recent Nets press conference to introduce the team’s free agent signings. “I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, up and down. “And that’s the thing they told me they wanted me to come in and do. For them to tell me they wanted me to come in push the tempo, bring some energy to the team, that was everything I wanted to hear.”
At the moment, the Nets’ point guard position has much to prove. Brooklyn bought out Deron Williams and traded Steve Blake away. Jarrett Jack, as of now, is set to be the starter going into camp with Larkin poised to be his backup.
Brooklyn also may see what Ryan Boatright can do. The former UConn point guard averaged 14.1 points during summer league action. Larkin is looking forward to playing in a similar fashion as he did while at Miami, where he averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists and won ACC Player of the Year honors before leaving as a sophomore.
“I mean the triangle is a good offense if you have the type of players that fit within that offense,” Larkin said. “And I don’t feel like it was the best offense for me. I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, and there’s not as many pick and rolls in that offense. I’m not talking bad about it. It’s a great offense. I wish them nothing but the best.”
“Last year was definitely a roller coaster ride,” Larkin added of the Knicks. “… We had great aspirations last year to make the playoffs and prove everybody wrong and then just a lot of stuff happened. People were hurt, we never were healthy, we were trying to learn a new system… I think Fish (Derek Fisher) did a really good job of keeping everybody together. Nobody really lost themselves last year, but it was definitely a difficult time, and I wish them luck.”
Now Larkin is looking for another new start in another area of New York. The Nets hope Larkin discovers his first-round talent on the other side of the river.
“He’s still young,” King said of Larkin, 22. “He came out (of school) early. I said the same thing to (free agent addition) Thomas Robinson -– we want to get you back to being what got you drafted, to where you were.” “We’re going to let you be who you are.”