It was a been nothing short then a tremulous first season with the Los Angeles Lakers for Jeremy Lin, and his exit interview on Tuesday was a chance for him to reflect on it all.
The 26-year-old in his lone campaign with the Lakers, averaged 11.2 points and 4.6 assists in 74 games played, including 30 starts. It was a season that he categorized as having a rocky start with the low point for him losing the starting job after the first 19 games in the season.
However at that same note Lin felt there was vast improvement over season in terms of both he and head coach Byron Scott getting on the same in understanding what is required of him on a nightly basis.
“[I] had a rough start in terms of adjusting to the new system and finding out exactly what Coach Scott wanted. As time went on, it just felt like good progression,” Lin said. “There was improvement throughout the course of the year all the way up to the end.”
The improved chemistry between he and Scott in Lin’s eyes was evident after he began receiving more playing time on the floor following the All-Star break as was given more freedom to run the offense.
“We started changing things up with guys going down,” Lin said. “We started running more random pick-and-rolls and drags. That’s no surprise that’s what I’m most comfortable in. That’s what allowed me to flourish. As we evolved into that in terms of offensive things I was able to get more of a rhythm and get more comfortable with the system and what’s going on.”
At that same token, Lin also saw that both he and Scott had much growth in their mutual respect with each other despite bumping heads early on in the season with differing point of views of how the point guard position should be played.
“I think our respect for each other grew as the season went on. I played through some things that I probably shouldn’t have played through,” Lin said. “His respect for me and my respect for him has grown steadily throughout the season.”
As for his ailing left knee that forced him to miss the last five games of the season, Lin stated that it wouldn’t require surgery to fix the abnormality in the meniscus, and says it has continued to progress well.
“Knee’s good to go. We’re going through the process,” Lin said. “I started running and cutting today. I just want to play a little one-on-one. I’m pretty much there. I think it feels great. We got all the swelling out. There is 100 percent range of motion, and there is no pain.”
Lin will have a big decision to make this offseason Lin as he will be an unrestricted free agent, and for him the choice on where he plays next will depend primarily on the place that he feels he fits best.
“I would say the biggest thing for me in free agency is to make a good decision in terms of where I want to be and where the fit is [right] for me,” Lin said. “I think that’s about it. Nothing beyond that. I’m not too worried about the years or a number what I’m getting paid. I want to find a good place and hopefully the best place I can fit in.”
“I’m 26 right now, and next year I will be 27 going into the physical prime of an athlete. I just want to be able to find a good fit for me, and do the best I can wherever that is.”
He also stated that he is “definitely” open to the idea of returning to the Lakers next season, but understands the team has to go through the draft and free agency first before any decisions can be made on him.
“I know everyone is going to ask, but I definitely haven’t ruled out here,” Lin said. “I thought we made a lot of progress in terms of them knowing who I am as a player and person, and me learning about who they are, about what they want, and what they expect on the court. They learned a lot about me, and we were able to grow and improve on everything that’s going on here.”
“It’s definitely an option to consider,” Lin added. “I love the city. I love the fans, and I am comfortable. I will definitely consider that for sure if it’s an option.”
The five-year veteran also voiced his appreciation of unwavering support from his fan base that he has gained throughout his NBA career.
“I love it. My true fans are with me until the day I die,” Lin said. “I know that, and I love that and appreciate that. I’m so grateful for that. They are the best, and might annoy other people. They’re rooting for me, I’m not going to complain.”
If Lin doesn’t return to the team next season, one thing he plans on taking with him are the teachings that Kobe Bryant gave him about work ethic, game preparation, and most importantly the mental aspect of the game.
“The biggest takeaway from Kobe is the mental side of things,” Lin said. “I remember there was one game when he was really struggling in the first half, and at halftime he was laying there with a towel on his head. He just exploded in the second half, and just seeing him do that helped me. I feel like I have learned that from him.
“Whether I come back or not this summer I think I’m going to take all that with me. I am going to take what he has done and apply that to me.”