The 6-foot-3 point guard, who became an international phenomenon during one dazzling month with the Knicks last season, went through his first workout with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Naturally, he drew a horde of media to the Toyota Center, evidence that Linsanity has plenty of life left in it.
”I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet,” Lin said. ”I think we’re a young team and we’re all going to buy in. The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person that’s going to carry us to where we want to go, it’s going to be everybody. I think it’s so early on, I’m just trying to get to know the guys.”
Lin was waived by the Rockets last December, then picked up by the Knicks. He was hesitant to buy a home and slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before his breakout game against New Jersey on Feb. 4.
Lin signed a three-year, $25 million contract with Houston over the summer. He arrived on Monday – but first asked teammate Chandler Parsons if he could ”crash” on his couch until he bought furniture.
He finally feels secure enough to settle down.
”I’ve got to get that bed in there, so I can sleep well tonight,” Lin said.
The Rockets acquired Lin over the summer by outmaneuvering the Knicks in free agency.
New York coach Mike Woodson said the team would match any offer to re-sign Lin and he would be the starter heading into training camp preceding this season. Lin originally signed a four-year, $28.8 million offer sheet with the Rockets, but the team revised its offer and made it three years and $25 million, with much of the guaranteed salary earmarked for the third year.
The extra money would’ve pushed the Knicks over the luxury-tax threshold in 2014-15, so New York backed off.
The Rockets held Lin’s introductory press conference on a stage on the practice floor at the Toyota Center to accommodate a huge media throng. Lin is American-born, but his maternal grandmother is from China and he has Taiwanese parents, so the event also drew a large contingent of Asian media.
Lin toured Asia this summer, running a four-day basketball camp in Beijing and visiting Taiwan for the first time. He’s also had the chance over the past few months to catch his breath and reflect on his whirlwind rise to worldwide stardom.
”Every once a while, I’ll take a look back and just be like, `I can’t believe this is happening,”’ Lin said. ”I had one of those moments this morning, in the training room, with the big Houston Rockets logo. It was just like, I was just appreciating the fact that I get to wake up and play basketball for a living. And even the whole NBA thing, yes Houston, (but) just (to) be able to play basketball for your job, like those are things I remind myself of every day.”
The Rockets, meanwhile, were just happy to get Lin back after releasing him in training camp with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic ahead of him on the roster. The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers two days after Christmas, and he was put at the end of their depth chart at point guard.
Lin was briefly relegated to the developmental league, then recalled when Baron Davis postponed his return from a herniated disk in his back. That’s when Linsanity exploded.
The undrafted free agent out of Harvard became the first player in league history to average 20 points and seven assists in his first five games. He scored 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers one night, then drained a game-winning 3-pointer against Toronto on another, and helped the Knicks rally for an eventual playoff berth.
Lin seemed to be a perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system, but D’Antoni resigned in mid-March. Lin’s numbers dipped and the Knicks revealed on April 1 that Lin needed surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee and would miss six weeks.
Lin recuperated in his native California and said Tuesday that he was back playing basketball within two months. He dunked for the first time since his surgery in July, continued to train and says he’s shed 10 pounds since last season.
”I feel good, I feel healthy,” he said. ”I feel lighter. I’m excited.”
The Rockets, entirely rebuilt after a flurry of offseason moves, have their practice on Oct. 1. They’ll spend their first full week of training camp in Rio Grande Valley, home of their developmental league affiliate, and will play Oklahoma City there on Oct. 10.
Lin met most of his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday. While Lin has had a most unusual NBA career already, he’s still only 24 and acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn.
”Last year, I actually had a real season under my belt, where I got to play and see what works and doesn’t work,” he said. ”Definitely, you want to lead by example, more so this year than last year, or the year before, coming in as a non-guaranteed guy. Now, there’s more stability, so I need to be more of a vocal leader and hopefully lead through work ethic and example.”