I wasn’t planning on writing a post about Lin’s exit interviews, but I feel that I need to, because it seems to have generated a lot of anger on the part of some Lin fans. My Twitter is lighting up with reports from Lin’s exit interview. I won’t even bother pasting all the tweets, I’m sure you’ve seen them yourself. But a lot of them seem to indicate that Lin wants to return to the Hornets. So, of course, Hornets fans are ecstatic about this, because they desperately want Lin to return in a backup role, since they know how valuable Lin is (yet, not valuable enough to start in place of Kemba). And Lin fans are up in arms baffled at how Lin could return in a back up role.
I have never really paid much attention to exit interviews and apart from tweets coming to me, etc., I haven’t actually sought out anything regarding Lin’s exit interview. The reason is that I don’t put much weight to them. Every now and then, a player reveals his cards and says something of significance. But for the most part, players just say the politically correct thing.
I, of course, didn’t pay attention to Lin’s exit interview with the Lakers, but I have heard that Lin said that he was interested in returning, etc. I mean, what is a player supposed to say? If he says he doesn’t want to return, then it looks bad. Looks like he’s not a team player or would be an issue in the locker room, etc. And in Lin’s current situation with Hornets, especially, Lin would look really bad if he said he didn’t want to return. Lin would look ungrateful, because it is widely believed that Lin was able to repair his image, etc. And everyone aside from a lot of Lin fans seem to think that Lin found a home with the Hornets, etc. So for Lin to say he wouldn’t return would generate a lot of negative headlines, since it would go against the general consensus. I don’t want to get into a long discussion why returning with the Hornets in a backup role is a horrible idea for Lin. I’m assuming Lin fans understand that argument all too well. I’m just talking about the general consensus in the media, etc.
So given the general consensus that Hornets has been a good situation for Lin, it makes complete sense that Lin would say that he is “interested” in returning with the Hornets. To me that is no headline. If Lin were to suddenly say that he didn’t want to return, then that would be shocking and generate all sorts of negative PR. People would see Lin as being ungrateful, etc. and question why he wouldn’t want to return to such a good environment for him. Then Lin would have to give justifications for why he was underutilized and misused and would come off looking really really bad.
The other reason why I don’t take what is stated at exit interviews at face value is that there is a lot of strategic maneuvering involved. Strategically, it is in Lin’s best interest to say that he wants to return so that other suitors will try harder to get Lin if they want him. If Lin shows that he’s not really interested in returning and is looking to move, then other suitors may think they can get Lin for much less than they’re willing to offer (not just money, but situation), because they’ll be “rescuing” Lin from an undesirable situation. Also, revealing to the public your real feelings and intentions for free agency does a player no good. Free agency is a long ways away, it does Lin absolutely no good to reveal his hand to the public, since it’s not the public that he’d be negotiating with. So it’s best to just say the politically correct thing that is in-line with the general consensus so as not to generate any shocking headlines.
All this being said, I do think Lin genuinely enjoys playing with his teammates and wants to play with them. Lin loves the chemistry and it’s the best team environment he’s felt since High School. I think that is all true. Lin does believe all that and is not just saying the politically correct thing. I also do believe Lin genuinely wants to return. Lin is tired of moving around and does want to find a home. I think if Hornets offered Lin a starting PG position, he’ll take it in a heartbeat. But I’m confident that even though Lin has enjoyed his experience with the Hornets a lot, he will not return in a backup PG role. Lin is too smart for that. He’ll figure out that once MKG returns, he will likely not close out many games and will likely play less than 20 minutes. Free agency is a long ways away. Lin has his family, friends, agents, etc. to help him see things more clearly if he hasn’t already. Also as much as Lin wants to return, I would think that if someone like Atkinson/Nets come knocking with a starting PG position, Lin would take that offer.
The ONE thing that scares me is that the Hornets might offer Lin a starting SG/combo guard position and Lin takes that, because he loves his Hornets teammates and is tired of moving. To me, that would be a huge mistake, because Lin is meant to play PG, not SG. Also, Lin can’t trust Cliff to keep Lin in the starting lineup so that’s an offer that is not guaranteed. As long as Kemba is with the Hornets, Lin can’t stay with the Hornets, because Cliff prefers Kemba’s offensive game to Lin’s offensive game. I just hope the Hornets don’t have enough cap space to make Lin this type of offer and I hope that Lin is smart enough to not fall for this type of offer. When the Hornets signed Lin, Cliff made a lot of promises that he ended up not upholding. I don’t want to go into all the details, because that would be a very long post. And some of those weren’t really promises anyhow, so I don’t want to say that Cliff out right lied to Lin, but Cliff gave Lin one impression of what Lin’s offensive role would be when they signed Lin, then didn’t fully live up to that is all I will say about that in this post.
Now, I could be completely wrong and Lin ends up signing with the Hornets as a backup PG. If so, then I really don’t know what to say. To me, that shows that Lin is completely clueless and needs better people around him to help him see the situation more clearly. If Lin does re-sign with the Hornets in a backup role with MKG coming back, Lin will likely play less than 20 minutes and not close out games. I don’t think I can watch Lin doing that for an entire season. If that happens, then I’ll just follow Lin from reading articles every now and then and looking at box scores, but I won’t bother watching Lin being underused and misused. It’ll be a complete waste of my time!