Jeremy Lin is eager to prove himself as more than a piece of NBA trivia


A little known fact about Jeremy Lin, who was recently claimed off waivers by the New York Knicks: he actually has a pretty solid all-around game. He’s a big guard, racks up steals at an incredible rate, and is — at the very least — a solid straight-line driver.

A better-known fact about Jeremy Lin: he’s the NBA’s first Chinese-American/Taiwanese-American player, a bit of a cultural oddity in a league that features players from all over the world, but few that are the children of Asian immigrants.

It’s sad that the trivia of Lin’s young career has taken precedence over his game, but c’est la vie on the NBA fringe. He’ll always have that one defining characteristic floating around him, even as he does his best to mute its impact by contributing more and more on the court. Lin hasn’t yet had that opportunity, as his limited role in Golden State was continued — if just for one game, during which Lin logged a minute and a half of playing time — with New York. He’s more of an insurance policy for the Knicks (who currently have both Baron Davis and rookie Iman Shumpert sidelined with injuries) than anything else, but Lin nonetheless hopes to take advantage of the opportunity that’s been tossed in his lap, and prove his place in the league beyond novelty. From Howard Beck of the New York Times:

The excitement that Lin generated was at times overwhelming. Some fans and commentators wrote him off as a publicity stunt.

“It was extremely taxing for him,” Montgomery said, adding, “He wanted to please a lot of people.”

Lin and Montgomery are, to be sure, grateful for the opportunity the Warriors provided. The fascination with his biography would probably have consumed him no matter where he started his career. But it was tougher in the Bay Area, which had an added rooting interest, and tougher still to find playing time behind two young stars, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.

Now Lin has shed the rookie jitters and has learned to cope with the frenzy around him, Montgomery said. The mission this season, Lin told Montgomery, is “I want to show them that I’m the real deal.” As he prepared for the shootaround Wednesday, the reserved Lin tried to contain his emotions. He admitted he was “still kind of in shock” about being waived by his hometown team, 18 months after it granted him his N.B.A. entry. “It seems like forever ago,” Lin said, “but obviously a dream come true. And I’m still excited, just as excited, to be with the Knicks right now.”

The Knicks play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 10:30 EST, marking Lin’s second game as a member of the team. Mike D’Antoni still may not be completely comfortable with Lin as a regular member of the rotation, but a low-risk matchup against the likes of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake could be a nice proving ground for Lin.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.