Interim GM impressed by Jeremy Lin

Updated: February 18, 2012, 9:54 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Less than two weeks ago, New York Knicks interim general manager Glen Grunwald and his staff were contemplating whether to cut Jeremy Lin.

Now, just like the rest of the sports world, Grunwald is swept up in "Linsanity."

What has surprised the general manager the most about Lin?

"Just his ability to meet the challenge," Grunwald said. "You can see him rising to the occasion for one game, but to do it on a consistent basis and really meet the challenge -- that's really been the astounding part of it. Now teams are looking to stop him and he still has been very successful. His competitive spirit and his team leadership and his ability to deal with what is presented to him in a game as a young player is very impressive."

In a rare chat with reporters, Grunwald addressed one of the many remarkable aspects of the Lin story -- that he was nearly cut earlier this month.

Lin, 23, had barely gotten off the Knicks' bench in his first month with the team, even spending six days with its D-League affiliate. The Knicks decided to give him an extended look because they were faced with a Feb. 7 deadline by which they had to either guarantee Lin's contract or cut him.

"We were evaluating what (we were) going to do with our team," Grunwald said. "Our team was struggling and we talked to coach Mike (D'Antoni) and Mike said I guess we really need to take a hard look at him now otherwise, we're going to have to make a decision and maybe we didn't have full information to have a full evaluation. We were looking at a number of options.

"We were obviously struggling (the Knicks were 8-15 at the time) and we were looking at what we needed to do to get this turned around and fortunately the guy was sitting on our bench."

Lin first received significant minutes Feb. 4 against New Jersey. He scored 25 points and handed out seven assists that night in the Knicks' win. Lin has started six games since -- and the Knicks have won all of them to climb back to .500 entering Friday night's game against New Orleans.

Grunwald said the Knicks had been watching Lin since college. They "liked" him coming out of Harvard but passed on him in the draft.

Grunwald revealed that the team had "discussions" with Golden State when Lin played there in his rookie season. It's unclear if they ever came close to acquiring him. But the opportunity arose again in mid-December --- after Lin was waived by Golden State and Houston -- and the Knicks claimed Lin off of waivers.

"It just was an opportunity to acquire him when we needed someone that has his skill set and it worked out -- so far, so great," Grunwald said.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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