When Jeremy Lin left New York in 2012 it was with the understanding that he could make better money elsewhere (he did) — and the suspicion (among some) that Linsanity might all have been a dream. In the four years since, Lin has proved his NBA mettle, showing doubters that he can produce in various environments — sometimes under notoriously difficult circumstances (LA Lakers) and more recently as a key contributor to the Charlotte Hornets best season in memory. Now Lin has a player option to explore what’s out there for him, just as the New York Knicks say goodbye (most probably) to the triangle offense and hello to new coach Jeff Hornacek’s hyperspeed offense.
Hornacek brings an up-tempo style from Phoenix, a place where Mike D’Antoni (7 seconds or less) and Steve Nash made fans feel the need for speed. Hornacek will deliver his jolt to a city — New York — that prides itself on speed and vision. Lin memorably had his Linsanity moment under D’Antoni — and a similar Hornacek reign would fit Lin’s penetrate-first offensive mindset and skillset perfectly. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr reminded people recently that “personnel is everything in this league, and so every coach is at the mercy of the talent and the organization.” Phil Jackson, who coached Kerr, knows this rule pretty well, having also coached guys named Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jackson has no doubt promised Hornacek he’ll deliver personnel to help him achieve his vision. A penetrating point guard who can rebound and also play well at the shooting guard slot is the kind of tool Hornacek will want. For Lin, never a fit for the triangle, a Knicks return suddenly doesn’t look like fantasy anymore.