Newly signed Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin reiterated his intended desire to remain with the New York Knicks heading into free agency, saying he wished New York had done more early in the process to keep him.
In a wide-ranging interview with the San Jose Mercury News’ Marcus Thompson II published Monday night, Lin said that the choice to sign an offer sheet with the Rockets was simple when he looked at his options. From Lin’s interview with Thompson:
Lin said he expected to — wanted to — re-sign with the Knicks. But the Rockets, who reportedly pegged him as a primary target, came after him hard. First, they agreed to a four-year, $28 million offer sheet, paying him about $9 million in each of the final two years. But by the time Lin arrived in Houston to sign the offer sheet, the Rockets — after reports the Knicks would match — had pulled the first offer and changed the deal. The new offer sheet was for three years, with a third-year salary of $14.8 million.
“I didn’t go back to them and ask for more money,” Lin said. “It wasn’t like they gave me the choice to sign one of the two and I chose the one that would hurt the Knicks. I had one contract offer. That was it.”
Lin echoed statements made to SI’s Pablo S. Torre last week, when he said his preference was always to remain a Knick after a whirlwind season that saw him rise from obscurity to perhaps the biggest star in New York. The Knicks, of course, did not match the Rockets’ offer sheet and let Lin walk to Houston last week.
“Honestly, I preferred New York,” Lin said. “But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. … Now I’m definitely relieved.”
Lin also told the San Jose Mercury News that the phenomenon his season became — the “Linsanity” — made him relatively uncomfortable. And he also said it got into his head at points.
“If I’m being honest, in some ways, yes,” Lin said. “I fought it every day. But I think subconsciously, it had its effect, everyone catering to you. People were saying only good things for so long that when people said negative stuff, it was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ “