Friday, February 10, 2012
What took so long with Lin, Mike?
By Ian Begley
The Knicks were seven games under .500 last Saturday and Mike D'Antoni's job was in jeopardy.
A big reason for the team's struggles was a lack of stability at point guard.
Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert all received ample time for run the point. But none of the guards proved sufficient.
The Knicks entered play that Saturday ranked 24th in offensive efficiency, 26th in turnover percentage and 25th in assist percentage.
The result was an 8-15 record and rumblings that D'Antoni, who is in the final year of his contract, may not make it through the season.
That night against the Nets, D'Antoni turned to Jeremy Lin with 3:35 to play in the first. Thanks in large part to Lin, the Knicks have won three straight with him on the floor.
So D'Antoni was faced with this question on Friday: What took so long to go to Lin?
The coach explained that Lin had little practice time with the team and he felt obligated to see what Douglas, Bibby an Shumpert could do at point guard.
"You've got to kind of stick with it," the coach said, in explaining why he gave each guard time to play. "You can't just every 15 minutes change flavors. We liked Jeremy, but him standing on the sideline just doesn't give you a whole lot of insight into where he can play and not play. If we would have had summer league that might have helped but then with that, you never know what a guy can do in crunch time until he gets out there."
In the last three games, Lin has proved he's more than capable.
He's combined for 76 points and 25 assists over that span and is the first player since LeBron James to have at least 20 points and eight assists in his first two NBA starts.
"We had an idea we liked him and it worked out. You have to have luck in this league and he got a bunch of luck. And it worked out for us. And the end result is that we're lucky," D'Antoni said.
But it almost never got off the ground.
D'Antoni said on Friday that if Baron Davis had returned from a back injury, Lin may have never seen the floor.
"He wouldn't have gotten a chance probably but I'd like to think that it would all work out -- a guy that is true to his profession and works hard, that eventually he'll get a chance," D'Antoni said. "I don't think it always works out that way. There's randomness and the world is crazy. And (this is) a little random. He made the most of his situation and we're going to try to make the most of him being able to play."
As for Lin, he said his goal coming into the season was to crack the rotation of an NBA team. He was cut in training camp by the Warriors and Rockets before being picked up off of waivers by the Knicks.
"I wanted to establish myself into the rotation and to not be the 12th-15th guy on the team ... that's what I wanted to do and that's what I felt I could do," Lin said. "But the reality of the situation was I was a 12th - 15th guy on the team and that's why I got waived a couple times and I'm just thankful to god that I'm here with New York."