Lin now centre of the Knicks' universe

In case you hadn't heard, Jeremy Lin has been front and centre for the New York Knicks since...

In case you hadn't heard, Jeremy Lin has been front and centre for the New York Knicks since getting a shot to play almost two weeks ago.

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 PM ET

Glen Grunwald, Toronto’s one-time capologist turned general manager, has always been and remains a man of few words, which doesn’t make him bad because he’s anything but.

In New York, the Knicks’ interim general manager has appeared in front of a microphone as often as his former team north of border wins games.

When he has addressed the meddling media in the Big Apple, Grunwald’s words have resonated, his latest remarks underlining just how improbable Jeremy Lin’s story has unfolded.

To put it bluntly, the Knicks were this close to releasing Lin.

“That’s right,” Grunwald, who once served as the president of Toronto’s Board of Trade, said. “We were evaluating what we were going to do with our team. Our team was struggling.”

The Knicks were so desperate for a catalyst they were poised to turn to Baron Davis, whose best days are clearly behind the oft-injured veteran point guard.

When Davis experienced a setback in his rehab from his latest bout with a bad back, Lin became an option when no other option existed.

Mike D’Antoni would use Lin off the bench in a comeback win over the Nets and the Knicks have never missed a beat since, Lin’s status rising with every win and fourth-quarter performance.

“We talked to Mike,” Grunwald continued, “and Mike said: ‘I guess we’re really going to have to take a hard look at him now, otherwise we’re going to have to make a decision.’

“Maybe we didn’t have full information (to) make a full evaluation. We were looking at a number of options. Not just that, but trades and things of that nature. We were obviously struggling and we were looking at what we needed to do to get this turned around.”

Like a handful of teams, the Knicks scouted Lin at Harvard, but, like many, weren’t totally sold on his skills.

One of the scouts who liked Lin was Walker D. Russell, an under-rated bird dog during his days in Toronto who was brought into the Raptors fold by Isiah Thomas.

“(Lin has) been on our radar for a long time,’’ Grunwald added. “We liked him. We worked him out in the draft. We had discussions with Golden State when he was there.

“It was just an opportunity to acquire him when we needed someone who has his skill set. And it worked out. So far, so great.”

Indeed it has.

To borrow the late Al Davis’ line, in New York all they’re saying is: “Just Lin, baby!”

BOSTON MASSACRE

With the March 15 trade deadline looming, some hard questions must be asked in Boston, where the Celtics are showing absolutely no signs of being remotely capable to compete for a title.

It’s one thing to beat a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team and embarrass an Orlando team that has the Dwight Howard trade clouds hovering, but to get beat twice by the woeful Detroit Pistons must send red flags.

“I think at some point over the next 48 hours, I’m sure we’ll have a conversation just amongst our team in terms of where we’re at mentally,’’ ex-Raptors centre Jermaine O’Neal said following Boston’s second loss to Detroit on Sunday, a 15-point setback that took many aback. “Because that’s the key, mentally for us right now. I don’t care what’s going on, we shouldn’t lose to Detroit twice in a five-day span. They’re playing good basketball, but they shouldn’t beat us twice.”

Boston continued its road swing Monday night in Dallas, where the Celtics were lurching at .500.

IN PRAISE OF BiG BEN

Lin’s story is far from written, but he’ll have to go a long way to match the unlikely story Ben Wallace has penned during his career.

No undrafted player in the history of the NBA has played in more games than Wallace, who doesn’t have to take a single shot to impact a game.

When all is said and done, Wallace deserves to be in basketball’s hall of fame.

Not many undersized players can do what Wallace has done in a career that took him to Detroit in the summer of 2000 when the Pistons acquired Wallace and Chucky Atkins in a sign-and-trade when Grant Hill joined Tracy McGrady in Orlando.

“You look at what he’s done, he’s a champion, four-time defensive player of the year. I think without a doubt he has credentials to be hall of fame worthy,” Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank said.

Briefly

No player has reinvented himself better in recent memory than Hill, whom many thought was over the hill. Hill has gone from a scoring small forward to a defensive stopper who can guard three positions. Like fellow Suns teammate Steve Nash, Hill, 39, is loyal to a fault ... Lin’s turnover woes are based on two fundamentals: He leaves his feet too often when passing and poor spacing

 

BIG GAMES

Boston at Oklahoma City, Wednesday

Kendrick Perkins goes toe to toe with his former Celtics teammates; Kevin Durant may go off.

Orlando at New Jersey,Wednesday

The Dwight Howard to the Nets issue is sure to get raised; D-Will’s future also in question.

New York at Miami, Thursday

Linsanity hits South Beach, where transplanted Knicks fans are in abundance.

TRADE GASOL OR DON’T: KOBE

Kobe Bryant waded into the Pau Gasol debate following L.A.’s loss to Phoenix on Sunday.

Had the NBA not nixed a three-team deal that would have seen Chris Paul play for the Lakers, Gasol would have landed in Houston.

“I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him,” Bryant said bluntly. “It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all, but if they’re going to do something, I wish they would just ... do it.

“If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it. This way, he can be comfortable and go out and can perform and play and he can invest all of himself into the game. You can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something.”

Heading into Monday night’s tip against Portland, Gasol was averaging a career-low 16.6 points.

Without Gasol, Bryant would not have won his fourth and fifth NBA titles.

“I’m not trying to force the team if they want to trade me to trade me tomorrow,” Gasol said. “Obviously I still believe in our team; I believe in our city. I believe we can continue to be a special, special team, a successful team.”

T-MAC EXPLODES

The ticking time bomb that is Tracy McGrady exploded when he never came off the bench in the second half against Portland last week.

“I’m tired of this (bleep),” T-Mac began. “You can put that in the paper, I don’t give a (bleep).”

The Hawks took a flyer on this one-time high flyer to add veteran depth.

Atlanta should have known McGrady’s ego would lead to such pronouncements.

If they weren’t aware of the potential harm T-Mac would create, shame on the Hawks.

At this stage of his career, McGrady can be best described as serviceable in limited minutes.

When he expressed his frustration, McGrady added that Hawks head coach Larry Drew hadn’t offered an explanation.

“If you don’t feel I can help, come tell me that,” McGrady said. “He ain’t told me nothing. I just want to help these guys win, man, which I know I can.”

Heading into Monday night’s game in Chicago, McGrady has played in 26 games, averaging 17.5 minutes and 6.5 points.

LEBRON WANTS A CAVS RETURN?

One of these days, LeBron James must realize that silence is golden.

Each time he opens his mouth, James invariably gets in trouble for comments that are either misconstrued or misdirected.

What he should do is just keep his mouth shut, let Dwyane Wade, Miami’s undisputed leader, do the talking and just play basketball.

As the NBA gets set to enter its all-star break, there’s no player better than James, hands down.

When LeBron returned to Cleveland, he actually said he’d one day like to come back and play for the Cavs.

“I don’t hold grudges. I hold them a little bit. But I don’t hold them that long,” James said. “Like I said, he (Cavs owner Dan Gilbert) said what he said out of anger. He’ll probably want to take that back. I made a mistake, too. There’s things I want to take back as well. You learn from your mistakes and move on.

“Would I ever play for Dan again? Dan is not the coach. I’ll play for any coach. We’ll see what happens.”

SIXERS NEED A STAR

While the Sixers are a nice feel-good story with a nice team, the fact remains that Philly can’t beat elite teams and have looked miserable down the stretch in recent home losses to Miami and Dallas.

In the NBA, no team can win without at least two bona fide superstars.

In Philly, one can argue it has none.

During a rare media availability, first-year Sixers owner Josh Harris wouldn’t rule out bringing in a high-priced star, but he offered a caveat.

“Those are types of things you do and if you get it wrong, it puts you way back, so you have to be very careful,” Harris said.

“We have a deep-pocketed, committed ownership group, but we are going to be sensible about it and not do that just for anyone. It would have to be somebody really good.”

Under a previous regime, the Sixers brought in Elton Brand, who has been a bust, no longer explosive around the basket following an Achilles tendon injury.

This off-season, many predict Brand will be a victim of the new amnesty rule.

 


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