NBA PM: Lin Wants to Return to Charlotte

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Lin Wants to Remain With the Hornets

Jeremy Lin was one the biggest bargains in the NBA during the 2015-16 season, as he became one of the league’s most productive reserves on a $2,139,000 salary with the Charlotte Hornets.

Lin, who signed with the Hornets last offseason, averaged 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and three assists in 26.3 minutes per game. In his 13 games as a starter, his averages increased to 17.5 points, 4.8 assists and four rebounds, while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range.

The spark Lin provided off of Charlotte’s bench was obvious, and he finished seventh in the NBA in Sixth Man of the Year voting.

Now, the 27-year-old point guard will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, assuming he exercises his $2,235,255 player option for next year. With the NBA’s salary cap increasing to $92 million, Lin would be one of the players benefitting from plenty of teams having money to spend. Recent comments from Lin suggest that he’ll opt out of the contract he signed last summer.

While Lin would have many of options if he hits the market in July, his preference is to re-sign with the Hornets. He made that very clear recently, after the team was eliminated during the first round of the playoffs against the Miami HEAT.

“I would love to [return to Charlotte]” Lin said, according to The Charlotte Observer. “I don’t like moving every year, I don’t like packing and unpacking boxes. So we’ll see. But I’m definitely interested in coming back.”

While many players say that they would be interested in returning to their respective team, Lin was adamant about this stance and explained why.

“This is the most fun I’ve had in my six years [in the NBA],” Lin said. “Being around a great group of guys and a coaching staff that really cares. I’ve learned so much about the game of basketball, particularly at the defensive end.

“My biggest thing is I want to have fun and be happy. I’ve been paid on the lower end and had a blast, and I’ve been paid on the higher end and not enjoyed it at all. Honestly, money has never been the most important thing. Money is important because it shows how a team values you. But beyond that I don’t care all that much about money. Me coming here showed that.”

The Hornets have a number of big decisions to make this offseason, with players like Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams and Courtney Lee among others all becoming unrestricted free agents in addition to Lin. However, all of these players hitting the market means that Charlotte will have a ton of flexibility this offseason. They currently have just $45,908,700 in guaranteed salaries for next season.

“I definitely want to play with these guys and this coach,” Lin said of Steve Clifford, who finished fourth in Coach of the Year voting. “When you bounce around a lot the way I have, seeing a lot of organizations, there’s a lot about this one that I can appreciate in terms of my experience, that maybe I didn’t have in other situations.

“From the [preseason] China trip, we knew this team really got along. I kind of expected there’d be bumps and bruises along the way as far as guys getting along with each other, but really there wasn’t. I’ve never seen a group of guys at the professional level [where] all the guys 1 through 15 got along together. It wasn’t uncommon for all 15 of us to do something together. That’s really, really rare.”

When asked specifically about what stood out about Clifford, who inked a new three-year deal back in November, Lin said that the coach’s honesty was important to him.

“He’s not one to sugar-coat or lie to you, which is why a lot of guys love playing for him,” Lin said. “What he told me from the beginning is pretty much how it went. I felt like for me, some of the adjustment was playing in such different roles. But that wasn’t because of false expectations, it was just about guys getting hurt.”

This will be a busy summer for a Hornets team that has a lot of players hitting free agency, but bringing Lin back could be one of the easier tasks on Charlotte’s to-do list given how he feels about the situation.

Nowitzki Opting Out, But Likely Staying in Dallas

After the Dallas Mavericks were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, a report surfaced that Dirk Nowitzki would be opting out of his contract. Nowitzki, who earned $8,333,334 this season, had a player option worth $8,692,184 for next year.

Initially, some fans were understandably concerned that the 37-year-old forward would look for greener pastures. However, Nowitzki tried to clear things up with a local radio interview.

“We had one more year on the contract, but I think this is the right thing to do,” Nowitzki said on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas and transcribed by ESPN. “We’re going to sit with Mark [Cuban] and Donnie [Nelson] obviously over the next few weeks and figure out how to improve this franchise again.

“Ever since after the championship [in 2011], we’ve been basically a first-round exit. We’ve been a seven, eight seed. We’ve only won a few playoff games, and obviously the goal was to compete at the highest level in my last couple of years, so there is some moving to do, some thinking, some putting our heads together the next few weeks heading into free agency, heading into the draft. So this is just one move that hopefully starts a chain reaction for us to get better again, to compete really at a high level. We’ll see how it goes.”

Others associated with the organization have added that Nowitzki seems poised to take yet another pay cut in order to help Dallas add marquee free agents this summer.

Nelson recently grew emotional during an interview when describing the sacrifices Nowitzki has made for the Mavericks.

“You look at what he’s done through the course of his career, he’s always been about winning,” Nelson said, according to the Star-Telegram. “How many guys in this day and age are [taking less money to help an organization]? A lot of guys say it, but to whip out the checkbook and to give us more flexibility, those guys are very, very few and far between. He has given this city everything.”

Nowitzki was set to be the third-highest-paid player on the Mavericks next season, but that may change if he inks a smaller deal. Dallas has only $28,965,307 in guaranteed contracts on their books for next season, meaning Cuban, Nelson and Co. will likely have a lot of money to spend on free agents in July.