Friday, February 10, 2012
Updated: February 11, 12:37 PM ET
Lakers considered signing Jeremy Lin
By Dave McMenamin
NEW YORK -- "Linsanity" could have come to Hollywood instead of the bright lights of Broadway.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who were one of several teams to express interest in New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin when he went undrafted out of Harvard in 2010, also considered signing the 6-foot-3, 200-pound point guard before this season began when Lin was a free agent.
"He didn't play much, [but] I knew who he was because when he was floating out there, I know [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] had some interest in him and he brought his name up to me," Lakers coach Mike Brown said before Friday's game in New York. "But, obviously with the success he's had these last few games, it's more attention that he's been getting. You're hearing a lot about him."
Brown would not speculate how close the Lakers came to signing Lin after already drafting two guards, Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, who were already vying for roster spots.
"I have no clue. We brought up a million names," Brown said. "I know that Mitch liked the guy and thought highly of him."
Lin averaged just 2.6 points and 1.4 assists in 9.8 minutes per game as a rookie with Golden State last season. He was on the Houston Rockets' training camp roster this season but was cut. Houston GM Daryl Morey lamented the decision through his Twitter account Thursday.
"We should have kept [Jeremy Lin]. Did not know he was this good," Morey tweeted. "Anyone who says they knew misleading U."
Lin came into Friday's game averaging 25.3 points and 8.3 assists over his past three games -- all Knicks victories.
"He's a good player," Brown said. "He's obviously terrific in the pick-and-roll. He's stronger than what you think, he's quicker than what you think, he's more athletic than what you think and he's a very smart player that has a great feel for the game of basketball. When you put him in a pick-and-roll situation and spread the floor and all that other stuff, he makes things happens because he can finish. He can finish with the bucket or he can finish by making the right pass."
Brown could empathize with Morey. He had Shannon Brown as a rookie in Cleveland and hardly played him before the high-flying guard eventually became an important part of two championship teams with the Lakers.
"You kind of kick yourself in the behind but you move on," Brown said. "... I don't think anybody wants to lose their jobs. I say that because, if [Lin] did the stuff in practice he's doing now [in games], he's probably going to play. Or at least get a contract with a certain team longer than 10 days. People make mistakes and when guys get an opportunity, they blossom."
Brown said Goudelock, the Lakers' second-round pick (No. 46 overall), who recently had a seven-game stretch where he averaged 10.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting off the bench, was overlooked much the same way Lin was.
"He was the 65th pick or 105th pick or 207th pick," Brown said. "I don't know how he fell as far as he fell. Maybe if he was with a different team, maybe he doesn't get an opportunity. I say this because the reality of it is; I was close to cutting him at one point early in the year. Who would have thunk that he would have been my backup point guard and played well for us when he got thrown into the fire early in the season."
Lakers forward Metta World Peace had some fun with all the attention being paid to Lin as he made his return trip to his hometown of New York City.
"We think he needs a better haircut," World Peace said. "I don't like that style. You're in New York, fashion's capital. Change your haircut. You're a star now. Wear some shades. Put down the nerdy Harvard book glasses, put on some black shades with some leather pants. Change your style. ... He should wear leather pants. He's the type of guy that should wear leather pants and some nice shoes and change his fashion. You're Jeremy Lin, for God's sake."
World Peace said he would like to work with Lin, actually.
"I think he has a bright future. I think he's going to be real good," World Peace said. "Next year I think he's going to be an All-Star. He's going to get a lot of votes. He should fire his agent and hire me. If he does that, he'll be an All-Star."
No matter if Lin can sustain his level of play long enough to launch a World Peace-fueled All-Star campaign, there was an appreciation for what the second-year guard has already accomplished.
"It's a great story," Brown said. "I enjoy the story just as much as you guys do. You hear about it. It's out there. Every time you turn on the TV I see that blue tongue."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.