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Friday, July 20, 2012

Lin departure surprises D'Antoni

AP

MANCHESTER, England — Mike D'Antoni was there for the start of Linsanity, Kobe Bryant on the wrong end of its greatest highlight.

Neither imagined next season opening without Jeremy Lin on the New York Knicks.

"No. Not when the kicker was they can match. I'm thinking, for sure," said former Knicks coach D'Antoni on Wednesday before the U.S. Olympic team practiced. "Even when I was there, well at least we got him, we don't have to worry about him blowing up and us not being able to afford it."

But the Knicks ultimately decided they couldn't or wouldn't.

Lin became a Houston Rocket on Tuesday night when the Knicks refused to match a three-year deal worth about $25 million, ending a brief but amazing run as New York's point guard.

It's possible Lin may never live up to the deal, but D'Antoni refuses to rule it out. And he won't accept the idea that Lin was only a creation of his high-scoring offensive system.

"First of all, I think that's not fair to anybody, I think especially not to Jeremy," D'Antoni said. "For 20 games he was one of the best in the league and he was dominating from the headlines to even on the basketball court. So you can't discount that he'll never be able to do it, because not only did he do it, he did it at the highest level possible.

"So I'm happy for him, I think it's a great contract for him and Houston could find themselves a very, very, very good basketball player. At least he's going to be a good player. The guy's got quickness and determination, so he's going to be good. Now it depends on what level, nobody knows that, but I wouldn't bet against him."



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