Guard Jeremy Lin looking to find stability with Hornets
Lin said he has no regrets about leaving the New York Knicks after the 2012 season to sign with the Houston Rockets during his introductory press conference Monday. But the 26-year-old, one-year sensation made it pretty clear he's eager to find the right fit.
Three teams removed from ''Linsanity'' fame, Lin believes he may have found it with the Hornets.
Lin said he walked away excited after an in-depth conversation with Hornets coach Steve Clifford about how the team plans to use him - talks that the five-year NBA veteran said were few and far between with previous organizations.
''Just having that open line of communication early and being proactive about it was very big for me,'' said Lin, who signed a two-year, $4.37 million contract last week.
The 6-foot-3 Lin said he believes Clifford will give him an opportunity to do the things he did in the second half of the 2011-12 season with the New York Knicks, where he turned from a waiver-wire pickup to a late season phenomenon with a knack for big shots and solid production, averaging 14.4 points per game.
Lin left New York to sign a three-year, $25 million with Houston after that season, but his playing time and production decreased during his two seasons with the Rockets and was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
He never quite fit in there, either.
''I want to get back to what makes me what I am as a player, which is being aggressive, being on the attack and always charging toward the rim,'' Lin said. ''I think that will help create easier shots for this team.''
That's what Clifford is counting on.
The Hornets were last in the NBA in 3-point shooting in 2014-15 and the team has made three pre-draft trades with that in mind.
Lin also fills that need.
''One, Jeremy has the ability to make the 3, but two, he is a playmaker and has the ability to create offense for himself and his teammates,'' Clifford said.
Lin is also excited about the idea of playing for the Hornets and living in Charlotte, one of his favorite NBA cities and one he refers to as the East Coast version of his hometown Palo Alto, California.
Lin said the ''Linsanity'' era ''feels like a decade ago'' and he's a much improved player now.
He remembers hearing plenty of criticism for his lack of defense, tendency for turnovers, poor shooting and inability to drive left. Despite reduced playing time in Houston and Los Angeles, he believes he's shown improvement in those areas.
''I do believe I am a more refined player, a more all-around player,'' Lin said. ''I do think the work I have put in has made me better. I just don't think I have had the same fit or opportunity.''
That could change in Charlotte where he'll work as the second-team point guard behind Kemba Walker and possibly see some action at the two-guard spot, Clifford said.
''I don't know what my limit is or how could I can be, but my goal is to find out,'' Lin said.
Said Clifford: ''He's hungry to continue to improve. As you know that is not always the case in any pro league. So I'm confident he will continue to get better.''
The Hornets didn't make the playoffs last year.
Lin sees that changing next season following the additions of Nicolas Batum, Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb this offseason via trades, and the selection of Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin in the NBA draft.
''We want to make the playoffs and we don't just want to sneak in at the eighth spot,'' Lin said.