Page last updated on Sun Nov 29 00:11:14 EST 2015
Tue, 15 May 2012 03:10 AM EDT

NY Knicks coach Mike Woodson said restricted free agent Jeremy Lin will “totally” be back next season with the team.

But like the starting point guard?  Woodson would not commit, pronouncing Lin “still has a ways to go” to boost his game.

“Jeremy’s a major part of our team, and will he start? Only time will tell,” Woodson announced at the Knicks’ training facility where players had their exit interviews with the coach. “He’s still got to recover from his knee and use this summer to actually work on his game to put himself in the best position possible for our ballclub. He has started for our team and he has played well for our basketball team. But this summer will be particularly crucial for him in terms of his enhancement and the futures very bright for him.”

In 35 games in the regular season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 helps per game. When Lin was leading the team to a 6-1 stretch in mid-March right after Woodson took control of for Mike D’Antoni, 5 players (including Lin) were scoring in double digits, and the Knicks were averaging 100.9 points per game and holding opponents to only 86.9.

Looking ahead, the most important area for Lin to build on, which will be a major element as Woodson considers whether to start him is the way in which the guard will handle defensive pressure regularly. In the height of “Linsanity” from February 6 to March 24, he averaged 4.5 turnovers per game. But Lin did cut down on his mistakes shortly before he was injured.

Thanks to a clause in the CBA – named after Gilbert Arenas – no other team can offer Lin more than the $5 million mid-level exception, and the Knicks have the inalienable right to match those offers. Football odds

Therefore, Lin is considered as a virtual lock to be re-signed come July 1, the beginning of free agency. However, Woodson’s affirmations still left the door open for the courtship of a player like Steve Nash, who will be an unrestricted independent agent, this offseason.

Carmelo Anthony is a “big believer” in what Lin can do next season. However most critically, they need him to get over his left knee injury, which was operated on April 2 to fix a little chronic meniscus tear.

“I want him to get healthy, come back at full strength and see what happens from there,” Anthony said. “He’s still part of the team and we want him. We love what he’s done for our team, what he’s done for the organization and what he’s done for the city.”

In addition to Lin, Woodson said he would love to see Smith and Novak re-sign with the team. At about that point, Novak is more likely to return than Smith, who sources say will back out of his player option as the $2.5 million biannual exception the Knicks can offer him this summer will be below his market value. But Smith claimed that he wishes to be back “without a doubt.”

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