After being part of the Toronto Raptors championship team a season ago, Jeremy Lin found himself out of the NBA last summer when no team decided to sign him as a free agent. He waited for a phone call from any one of the 30 franchises to take a chance on him, but when those calls didn’t come, At just 32 years old, Lin still had a lot left in the tank, and decided to sign a contract with the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged a team-high 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game.
In his debut with the Ducks in October 2019, he dropped 40 points, proving that he probably should be on an NBA roster. Now, after leading them to the semifinals of the CBA playoffs, Lin announced that he would not be returning to play in Beijing, and is instead focused on making a return back to the NBA.
Lin made the announcement to fans on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter:
“This decision has really been the hardest in my life,” Lin, who has complained about the rough-house treatment he received in the CBA, told his seven million followers in a video on the Twitter-like Weibo. “Every morning I would wake up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., thinking, thinking and thinking all the time. In the end, although Shougang [the Ducks] have treated me incredibly well … giving me everything I wanted, in the end, I feel that I still have NBA dreams. I still have time to play [there] and I have to chase this.”
Lin rose to notoriety during the 2011-12 season, where he was dubbed Linsanity for his surprising play with the Knicks. He injected some much-needed excitement into that franchise, and that one season in New York, where he put up 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game, garnered him national and global attention. It also jump-started his NBA career, where he bounced around from team to team over nine years in the league.
He never recaptured that same level attention that he had with the Knicks, but he was a sturdy point guard who could facilitate and score. Lin was waived by the Atlanta Hawks after the trade deadline last season, and the Raptors picked him up for the remainder of the year. In 23 games for Toronto, he played 18 minutes a game, and while he only averaged seven points and two assists, he racked up 15 or more points 14 times during the regular season. By the time the postseason rolled around, though, he had fallen out of rotation and barely saw the court during the Raptors’ championship run.
After showing out in China, Lin should garner some attention from teams in the league looking for a veteran backup point guard who can get to the basket and score, as well as distribute the ball. His defense is lackluster, and he’s an average 3-point shooter (34.2 percent), but he’s someone who can act as a spark plug off the bench. It also helps that this summer’s free agency class in the NBA isn’t too appealing, and given teams will want to try and save as much money as possible with contracts due to the uncertainty around the salary cap going forward because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin could be signed on a cheap deal to a team where he would have to prove himself.
Lucky for Lin, he’s spent his entire career proving others wrong, so this time should be no different for him.