I just wanted to share a recent interview with Lin in Chinese with English subtitles, because it’s a pretty detailed interview that provides a lot of reasons to be optimistic for this upcoming season.
The first 6 minutes or so of this interview is where Lin discusses his free agency and reasons why he chose the Hornets. Lin also goes into detail about conversations he’s had with coach Clifford. The best part of this interview for me is at around the 5 minute mark, when Lin says that Coach Clifford would start him if Lin plays well and the team needs him to start. This is great news, because it isn’t set in stone that Lin will be relegated to the bench all season. If coach Clifford is really sincere when he told Lin this (and there’s no reason to believe that coach Clifford isn’t sincere), then this shows that Clifford really believes in Lin–maybe even as much as D’Antoni does.
Apparently, after the regular season ended, coach Clifford told everyone that Lin was one of two players that Clifford wanted to get for next season. So it was really Clifford’s idea to get Lin. It’s great for a player’s career when the coach really wants you to be on the team. This was definitely not the case with the Rockets and probably not the case with the Lakers, as well. I think with the Rockets and Lakers, it was the owner and front office that wanted Lin, not the coaches. At the end of the day, it is the coach who has control of the player’s minutes, so the coach is the most important factor in a player’s success on a team.
The other big thing is that Clifford told Lin that Lin won’t be replaced if he has a few bad games, like he did in other teams. That Lin will be given a lot of room to play through mistakes. This type of trust is exactly what Lin had with D’Antoni and is what Lin has completely lacked ever since Linsanity. So the fact that coach Clifford told Lin this is huge for Lin. Lin is at his best when he feels like he has the trust of the coach. And since Lin’s hyper-aggressive style of play comes with a fair share of turnovers, it is critical to have a coach who understands this lets Lin take risks on the court. Also, inherent in this coach Clifford’s statement is the implication that Lin hasn’t really been given fair treatment by other teams. It’s awesome that Clifford appears to empathize with Lin’s unfair treatment on other teams.
Having a coach like Clifford is a dream come true for Lin. I think Lin fans have reasons to be very optimistic and excited for this upcoming season. Lin fans know that Lin has the proper skill set to be a great PG. All Lin has been missing is the right coach and opportunity. With the Hornets, at least, he does have the right coach. And if Lin stays healthy and performs at a high level early on in the season, there is a chance that Lin may even end up starting midway through the season and into the playoffs. I know I’m getting way ahead of myself, but right now, the potential for Lin on this team with this coach is very high. I don’t see how Lin can suddenly disappoint coach Clifford, since Lin will always be Lin and Clifford has already liked what he has seen in Lin even when Lin hasn’t been allowed to really show what Lin can do. Imagine if Lin is finally free to really show what he can do? Get ready for Linsanity 2.0!