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Lin’s departure a surprise to ex-coach, teammates
“No. Not when the kicker was they can match. I’m thinking, for sure,” said former Knicks coach D'Antoni on Wednesday before the U.S. Olympic team practiced. “Even when I was there, well at least we got him, we don’t have to worry about him blowing up and us not being able to afford it.”
But the Knicks ultimately decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t.
D'Antoni, who gave Lin a chance to play in February, resigned a month and a half later when the Knicks were struggling. He remains a firm believer in the undrafted point guard from Harvard. Bryant had no choice but to become one after Lin scored a career-high 38 points, outplaying one of the NBA’s biggest stars during a nationally televised victory over the Lakers.
“The plays that he was making, it didn’t seem like he had too much of a difficulty making them. He seemed like he was pretty comfortable in making those plays and he was pretty consistent afterwards,” Bryant said. “His numbers weren’t 30 and 15 assists or whatever, but they were more than solid numbers. He can play, he’s a very good player.”
How good is impossible to predict, because Lin made just 25 starts before his season ended because of surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. His numbers were already falling by then, a combination of fatigue and a lesser role in the offense once Mike Woodson replaced D'Antoni, who is now an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic team.
“I mean, I don’t think nobody really has an idea what his ceiling is,” Anthony said. “What he was able to do for that little stretch that he played before he got hurt, he was at the all-time high, from a game standpoint doing what he was able to do, averaging 20 something-plus points, almost 10 assists. I’m ready to see what’s next.”
He would have seen it in New York, but the third year of the contract, worth nearly $15 million, could have cost the Knicks more than double that in luxury tax payments.
“Houston threw something in the game that was kind of crazy,” Anthony said.
“It had to be one of the top five of all time as far as the excitement,” said McEnroe, who was in Times Square on Wednesday talking about playing tennis at the Garden in November in the PowerShares Series. “My daughter was like, `I love Lin,’ and she doesn’t really follow the team. It was so amazing to be there; the noise decibel was just deafening.
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