By Steve Popper, The Record (Hackensack N.J.) –
While Jeremy Lin has insisted his first choice would have been a return to New York, at his introductory news conference in Houston on Thursday he showed that he has moved on to his new home.
“I’m excited to be here,” Lin told a crowd that rivaled the massive media gatherings of Linsanity. “If I didn’t believe in this organization I wouldn’t be here. I think we’re going to build this team. We’re going to compete. We’re going to win games. That’s my goal. That’s how I envision it. I want to help this team whatever way I can.”
Lin departed New York when the Knicks passed on the chance to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet the Rockets gave the 23-year-old point guard. In landing in Houston, he returned to the team that waived him last season, giving the Knicks the chance to pick up the then-unheralded player.
With a spectacular 25 starts, he suddenly found himself a hot commodity. Now he knows he must prove that it wasn’t just a fluke.
“I know what I need to get better at as a player,” he said. “I spent a lot of time breaking down film, stats. (The skeptics), they’re right. I still have a lot to do to get established. In terms of criticism, I want to make sure I focus on what I want to get better at.”
While Lin was being introduced in Houston, in Las Vegas, the Knicks’ replacement for him, Raymond Felton, showed up at the Knicks’ summer league game and sat down with broadcasters Mike Breen and Walt Frazier.
When Felton was dealt to the Knicks he told a reporter for a Myrtle Beach, S.C., television station that he had been assured Lin wasn’t returning to New York. But Thursday he said he could have come anyway — with the confidence that he would have won the job.
“Honestly, if we would have spoke about them matching Jeremy Lin it would have been something I would have thought about more,” he said. “But I still might have come. This is where I want to play. I have confidence in my game. I’ll leave that at that.”
The best barb might have come from former Knick Landry Fields, who also spoke on the MSG telecast and joked of the $14.9 million poison pill final year of Lin’s contract, “Poison pill? That’s a Tic Tac for (Madison Square Garden Chairman) James Dolan.”